High Hell


1h 27m 1958

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.; Princess Production Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Elstree, England, Great Britian; Switzerland
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel High Cage by Steve Frazee (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

In the winter of 1887, the residents of a town directly below the towering peaks of the Canadian Rockies are frantic upon learning that Craig Rhodes intends to blast for gold in a mine located in the mountains above them. Townsman Jed Thomas leads a mob to confront Craig and businessman Dell Malverne, the mine's owner, who hired Craig to unearth the gold. Thomas and the others warn Craig not to blast with dynamite, as an explosion could unleash a deadly avalanche, and Craig promises not to blast until he is certain that the snow is frozen solid. Craig then leaves with his team, which includes his younger brother Danny, Luke Fulgham and Charlie Spence, for the long climb to their cabin. There, they discover that Frank Davidson, who was preparing the cabin for their arrival, has been joined by his wife, Lenore. Although Frank asserts that he did not know Lenore was coming, Craig is angry about the presence of the beautiful woman, as he believes that the men will inevitably fight over her. Frank and Lenore, who are hostile toward each other, agree with Craig that Lenore will leave as soon as the current snowstorm breaks. Craig then goes to look at the mine, and Charlie questions him about his certainty that the mountain contains gold. Craig is fervent in his belief that the many pans of gold dust he found in streams below must have come from a main vein, and that it is located in their mine. When the storm continues, Craig and Frank attempt to escort Lenore to town anyway but cannot get through a blocked pass and must return. After the lecherous Luke makes insinuating remarks about Lenore's presence, Craig decides that she should sleep in the adjoining storeroom. Lenore protests that Craig is being too bossy, while Craig insists that he will construct snowshoes so that she and Frank can descend the mountain. Frank is upset, as he does not want to miss any mining and thereby decrease his share in the profits, but Craig is adamant. Later, the men work in the mine, digging with pickaxes, and Luke taunts Craig for letting the townspeople influence him so that they cannot blast and uncover the gold more quickly. Soon after, Craig and Lenore quarrel again, and she berates him for his hardheadedness. He insists again that she must leave before the growing tension among the men boils over and, when she protests, tosses her into her room. One night, the men jealously eye Frank as he sneaks into Lenore's room, and in the morning, Craig orders her to keep her door locked. Soon after, Craig finishes making the snowshoes and Danny attempts to instruct Lenore in their use. When she walks too close to a ledge, however, Craig dives at her to prevent her from falling over the brink, and although he saves her, her leg is injured, forcing her to remain at the cabin. A few days later, Craig performs a test explosion, and when the snow holds, allows the men to blast, but using only two sticks of dynamite at a time. Luke grumbles about the slow pace and even accuses Craig of cowardice, but backs down when Craig offers to fight him. As time passes, the men work hard, while Frank grows jealous of their attention to Lenore. One evening, Frank confronts Lenore, and she reminds him that she came up the mountain in an attempt to save their marriage. Infuriated by Frank's accusations that she is a tramp, Lenore returns her wedding ring and he storms away. Later, Charlie suffers a minor heart attack when a blast loosens some snow and he is almost buried. Craig is irate that Charlie did not tell him about his heart condition, and Lenore is stunned by Craig's seeming indifference to his friend's pain. She softens, however, upon seeing that Craig has stayed up all night to watch over the recovering Charlie, and even confides in Craig that she married Frank in an attempt to find security after her father died. Charlie soon returns to work while the embittered Luke continues to complain, especially after Craig orders him to improve the shoring up of the mine walls. Luke's feelings quickly change, however, when they discover a rich vein of gold, and even Craig agrees to increase the blasting. Lenore objects, reminding Craig of the danger to the town, and tells him that gold does not have to be his entire life. Frank interrupts their discussion and offers Lenore to Craig in exchange for another five percent share of the profits. Lenore is outraged and the disgusted Craig bests Frank in a fistfight. Later, the men are busy working when Lenore decides to take a bath. Luke catches her and is about to attack her when Craig again intervenes and saves her. Craig and Lenore then engage in a passionate kiss, but Lenore breaks it off, reminding him that she is still married. Craig responds that they should take what is theirs, but Lenore asserts that she cannot compete with his passion for the mountain. Soon after, the group discovers that their canned goods have gone bad, and that they have only three weeks of food remaining, thereby decreasing their mining time. Even the cautious Charlie agrees with the others that they should risk a major blast, but Craig demurs and warns them not to touch the dynamite. That night, however, Luke and Frank sneak out of bed to plant all the dynamite. Lenore discovers them and they take her hostage, bringing her to the mine with them. Lenore begs Frank to stop, but he pushes her aside, while in the cabin, Craig awakens and alerts the others about Luke and Frank's disappearance. Luke shoots at them when they attempt to approach, and Charlie suffers another mild heart attack. Craig is able to sneak up on Luke and after a vicious fight, Luke's foot gets caught in the cart used to dispose of rock and he tumbles to his death off the mountain. A cave-in then buries Frank but Lenore is unharmed and reunites with Craig. The next day, Charlie and Danny lead the way as Craig and Lenore, hand-in-hand, follow them down the mountain.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.; Princess Production Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Elstree, England, Great Britian; Switzerland
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel High Cage by Steve Frazee (New York, 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Film Length
9 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

As noted in contemporary reviews, High Hell marked the first film of Burt Balaban and Arthur Mayer's independent company Princess Productions, and the first picture produced by Mayer. An August 1957 Variety news item referred to Mayer as a "film exhibition and distribution vet." According to reviews and the film's pressbook, many of the exteriors were shot on location in Switzerland, on the 13,000-foot high peak of Jungfrau, and the interiors were filmed at the studios of Associated British Pictures in Elstree, England.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1957

Released in United States 1957