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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

Directed by Cy Endfield
UK 1957

 

Energetic and violent trucking thriller marked by the raw, angry edge of the best of blacklist victim Endfield's Hollywood work, and by his appreciation (shared, oddly enough, by fellow exile Joseph Losey) of the markedly out-of-the-mainstream talent of Stanley Baker. Playing an ex-con hired as one of a team of drivers forced to drive at dangerous speeds in rattletrap lorries over rugged roads to meet the daily quota of loads to be delivered (a touch of The Wages of Fear here), Baker further becomes involved in a deadly duel with a sadistic rival (McGoohan) on his way to smashing the haulage company's racket. Baker and Endfield eventually formed their own production company for Zulu.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

***

When ex-con Tom (Stanley Baker - Zulu, The Guns of Navarone) signs up as a driver for a dodgy road-haulage company, he uncovers shady dealings going on between Red, the viciously ambitious foreman (Patrick McGoohan - The Prisoner, Danger Man) and Cartley, the sly, devious manager (William Hartnell - Doctor Who, The Army Game). The drivers are paid per job, a situation which encourages reckless and dangerous driving, and the stakes are raised when a fatal accident has Tom vowing revenge.

A gritty classic, HELL DRIVERS was directed with verve by Cy Endfield (Zulu) who also co-wrote the BAFTA-nominated screenplay with John Kruse (The Saint). As well as top-flight performances from both Baker and McGoohan, the leads are ably supported by Herbert Lom (Mysterious Island), Peggy Cummins (Night of the Demon), Sid James (Carry On), Gordon Jackson (The Professionals,) David McCallum (Dogs) and Sean Connery (James Bond).

***

An ex-con clashes with his manager and co-workers while working for a haulage company. Thriller starring Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan and a host of familiar faces...


So how's that for a cast? Yep, just about everyone in the British film industry appears in Hell Drivers, a hugely exciting road thriller from Cy Endfield, the blackballed American writer-director who'd go on to create that most British of films, Zulu.

Like that acclaimed war movie, Hell Drivers stars Stanley Baker, a man whose rugged looks and Valleys upbringing led to his being nicknamed "The Welsh Sean Connery". And speaking of Edinburgh's most famous milkman, young Sean is here playing one of a number of truck drivers who turn upon Baker's Tom Yately when a light is shone upon his shadowy past. Foremost amongst Yately's tormentors are haulage manager Cartley (Hartnell, still some six years away from taking up residence in the TARDIS) and barking mad foreman 'Red' Redman (McGoohan, at his eyeball-rolling best).

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 23rd, 1957

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Comparison:

 Network (2-disc Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT
 
Box Cover

NOTE: the cover currently on Amazon.UK is not correct. The image to the left IS.

 

 

Distribution  Network - Region 2 - PAL Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:43:28 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:48:25.500 
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.51 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 33,490,253,895 bytes

Feature: 20,088,589,056 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 20.04 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  Disc 1

Bitrate:  Disc 2

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital mono) 

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio:  Network

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary with sound assistant Harry Fairbairn and journalist Andrew Robertson

• Location report – Looking in on Hell Drivers (13:48)
• Interview with Stanley Baker – The Stanley Baker Story (15:41)
• Slideshow Stills gallery (38 images)
• Comic Strip gallery (19 panels)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:35)
Who Killed Lamb? A Thriller starring Stanley Baker (1:05:04)
• Danger Man episode: Loyalty Always Pays (48:58)
• Mute news footage of Stanley Baker unveiling a plaque at his birthplace (:48)
• Bruce Lewis 1960's interview Stanley Baker about the violence in his films (4:44)

Return to the Rhondda – a 1965 documentary featuring Stanley Baker (36:56)

• 24-page booklet with essay and photos

DVD Release Date: March 19th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Network

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 33,490,253,895 bytes

Feature: 20,088,589,056 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 20.04 Mbps

Edition Details:

Commentary with sound assistant Harry Fairbairn and journalist Andrew Robertson
Theatrical Trailer (1:37)
Look In on Hell Drivers (13:49)
The Stanley Baker Story (15:42)
Full Screen Ahead (26:07)
Galleries (5:41), Comic (1:02) and PDFs
Danger Man with Patrick McGoohan: Loyalty Always Pays (48:59)
Stanley Baker archive interview (1960s - 4:44)
Who Killed Lamb? with Stanley Baker (1:05:05)
Stanley Baker plaque news footage (0:49)
Return to the Rhondda documentary (36:57)
Booklet by Dave Rolinson

Blu-ray Release Date: March 20th, 2017
Slim Blu-ray Box
Chapters: 12
 

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - November 17': This was one of Network's best DVD packages - a great film, filled with extras. It was actually a 2-dic Special Edition. The 1080P transfer takes huge strides over the SD from 2007.

Firstly, the image looks far more 'in natural ratio' with normal sized heads not alien-looking elongated ones (see the first Peggy Cummins captures below). The DVD was in 1.78 while this new Blu-ray is in the original 1.66:1 AR. It shows a lot more information in the frame on all 4 sides. Contrast is more layered, the image is brighter and detail advances demonstratively. There is also plenty of depth.

On the negative, there is not much grain and it looks to have some digitization. But it doesn't have much gloss and whether you are acceptable depend on your level of sensitivity. It didn't bother me although it was visible. I think most will appreciate the vastly improved visual quality over DVD.

Audio goes linear PCM and this uncompressed obviously advances over the lossy DVD audio. There are plenty of aggressive effects to dangerous truck driving, accidents, fights etc. The score is by Hubert Clifford and does a reasonable job of supporting the film. I appreciate that Network have added optional English subtitles (for the accents) - see sample below - and their Blu-ray disc is Region 'B'-locked.

Extras duplicate the extensive 2-disc SE DVD (see below) with the commentary, the Danger Man episode, the - over hour-long - Who Killed Lamb? thriller with Stanley Baker, interviews, gallery, Return to the Rhondda documentary, PDF files in the root of the disc, the booklet and they add Full Screen Ahead - a 25-minute long, BFI, documentary with Peggy Cummins.

I like Network - they have never sent me product to review but I like their choice of films and the effort they put forth with minimal budgets. I love this. This package has a great Blu-ray cover too - this is a total giveaway at the current price - tons of value - great film stacked with solid performances and notable names plus a multitude of extras (almost 3-hours worth!). SOLD! Absolutely recommended!

***

ON THE DVD: Firstly, this is a damn fine film - although we have it on our Film Noir page  - I, personally, don't know that it enters into that style listing... but I'm sure someone could create an argument to support its inclusion. The comparisons to The Wages of Fear are appropriate - although this might be considered a super Anglo version with just about every important name in the UK actor's guild appearing. Like the Clouzot classic it has its own seething intensity - gripping and harsh with male bonding (and betrayal) at its crux. Wow...

This DVD edition follows another poorer one from ITV that came out in 2004 and promptly went out-of-print in the UK very quickly. I can see that the film itself is the reason for the popularity. This Network DVD is a Special Edition - 2 disc effort - anamorphic, progressive and dual-layered. The image quality is weak and looks both waxy and out of ratio  (vertically streatched). There are speckles and looked waxy on my plasma.  Audio is unremarkable and flat but consistent with audible dialogue. Unlike the weaker single-disc ITV edition there are no subtitles offered.

There was a lot of effort put into the supplements of this DVD package. There is an audio commentary with sound assistant Harry Fairbairn and journalist Andrew Robertson. Robertson has quite the strong Scottish accent but after a few sentences most will get used to it. It is not totally off-the-cuff but miles away from a Criterion commentary - still some interesting details are imparted and there are some gaps where the narrative is left to run. It is not a bad effort at all really. There is a 15 minute Interview with Stanley Baker - actually entitled The Stanley Baker Story. A good overview of the man and some of his work. There is also a featurette on Disc one entitled Looking in on Hell Drivers. It runs almost 15 minutes - is archival - a bit of promo on the film and some talk with real 'Hell drivers". Disc one concludes with a healthy slideshow stills gallery with 38 images, including some posters, another gallery from the comic strip that closely resembles the film - 19 panels worth and there is an un-restored theatrical trailer.

Disc 2 offers some unrelated TV work of some of the stars of the film. An hour long thriller starring Stanley Baker called Who Killed Lamb? - and a Danger Man episode called Loyalty Always Pays with McGoohan. Also less than a minute of silent footage of Stanley Baker unveiling a plaque at his birthplace. There is a 1960's Bruce Lewis interview of Stanley Baker about the violence in his films - it runs less than 5 minutes. Finally on the digital front there is an hour long 1965 documentary featuring Stanley Baker called Return to the Rhondda. Also included in the package is a nicely appointed 24-page booklet with an essay and some photos. Great job Network - probably the most complete DVD package I can recall seeing from them after their Black Narcissus.

I was very impressed by the film - really seems to have carved out a niche following for itself and is a genuine piece of grassroots history now. Strongly recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


Disc 2 Menus

 

Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

1) Network - Region 2 - PAL - TOP
2) Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

More Blu-ray Captures

Young Sean Connery

Sean Connery and Jill Ireland

David McCallum

 


Box Cover

NOTE: the cover currently on Amazon.UK is not correct. The image to the left IS.

 

 

Distribution  Network - Region 2 - PAL Network - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

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Gary Tooze

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