Hell and High Water (1954) Richard Widmark, Bella Darvi, and Victor Francen


Renowned French scientist Professor Montel (Victor Francen) goes missing; authorities believe that he and four other Western scientists have defected behind the Iron Curtain. •• Former U.S. Navy USS Bowfin (SS-287) submarine commander Adam Jones (Richard Widmark) arrives in Tokyo after receiving a mysterious package containing $5,000. Jones meets Professor Montel and a small group of international scientists, businessmen, and statesmen who suspect the Communist Chinese are building a secret atomic base on an island somewhere north of Japan. They must have proof, and so offer Jones $45,000 if he will command a World War II-era Japanese submarine to follow a Communist Chinese freighter Kiang Ching, which has been making suspicious deliveries in that area. Jones reluctantly agrees, providing that the submarine is armed, and that he is allowed to hire some of his former navy shipmates. Montel travels with his assistant, Professor Denise Gerard (Bella Darvi) •• News arrives that the Kiang Ching has sailed; despite Jones’ protests that the submarine’s torpedo tubes have not been inspected and tested yet, and are therefore too dangerous to use, there is no choice but to leave port and pursue the freighter. On the voyage, they are detected by a Red Chinese submarine which fires torpedoes at them. Unable to fire back with his own untested torpedo tubes, Jones dives the boat to the sea bottom, hoping to hide; the Chinese follow. After several tense hours of waiting each other out, Jones finally decides to surface, ramming and sinking the enemy submarine. •• Jones wants to turn back, but Montel points out that their contract specifies that he won’t be paid unless Montel is satisfied. They follow the Kiang Ching to an island; Jones and Montel land to investigate, but find insignificant radioactivity. After a firefight with Red Chinese soldiers, the patrol returns to the submarine with a captive, a pilot named Ho-Sin, and discover the existence of another island which could be their target. •• During a storm en route to the island, Montel is injured, and insists Jones take Denise in his place. Denise detects an extremely high level of radioactivity but is forced to shoot and kill a Chinese soldier who stumbles upon her. Back aboard the submarine, Jones is worried because he recognized an American B-29 bomber sitting on an airstrip. Needing more information, they trick it out of Ho-Sin by sending ship’s cook Chin Lee (Wong Artarne), dressed in a Chinese uniform, into the same room. Fooled, the captive reveals that the aircraft is going to drop an atomic bomb on either Korea or Manchuria the next day, with the blame placed on the United States. Unfortunately, Ho-Sin realizes Chin Lee is a spy and beats him to death before Jones can intervene. •• Jones decides to go ashore and watch for the bomber’s takeoff; at his signal, the submarine will surface and try to shoot it down. Montel, however, sneaks onto the island in his place. When Montel signals, the submarine surfaces and the crew opens fire with every weapon aboard. On fire, it crashes, detonating the atomic bomb and obliterating the island. In voice-over, Montel’s previous line echoes as the mushroom cloud rises: “Each man has his own reason for living and his own price for dying”.




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