Hell's Half Acre (1954 film)

Hell's Half Acre is a 1954 American film noir black and white crime film directed by John H. Auer starring Wendell Corey, Evelyn Keyes and Elsa Lanchester.[1] It was the first (and only?) film noir set in Hawaii.

Hell's Half Acre
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn H. Auer
Screenplay bySteve Fisher
Produced byJohn H. Auer
StarringWendell Corey
Evelyn Keyes
Elsa Lanchester
CinematographyJohn L. Russell
Edited byFred Allen
Music byR. Dale Butts
Republic Pictures
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
  • February 26, 1954 (1954-02-26) (New York City)
  • June 1, 1954 (1954-06-01) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States


A woman whose husband is declared missing in action after Pearl Harbor flies to Hawaii after the war to conduct her own investigation.

Her husband, ex-racketeer Chet Chester (Corey), is actually still alive but changed his identity due to his own criminal activities. However, he is being blackmailed by his former criminal partners, including Roger Kong.

Chester's girlfriend Sally (Nancy Gates) kills one of his enemies, but Chester takes the blame, assuming that he still has enough clout to escape with a light sentence.

The Chief of Police confirms to the wife that the husband was killed at Pearl Harbor and tears up his criminal record to protect his family from shame.



Critical responseEdit

The New York Times gave the film a positive review and wrote, "Betwixt the start and the finish, an undemanding spectator will find enough sequences of merit to hold his interest. And the story of destined doom and back-alley murder is not entirely implausible. Miss Keyes, an innocent caught in the tangled web, is a luscious young thing who certainly earns her "A" in acting. She shines nicely in contrast to the denizens of Hell's Half Acre, ostensibly a very unsocial area of Honolulu. John Auer, the director, makes his camera capture the most in picture value of what appears to be some very dingy neighborhoods with a resultant atmosphere that creates a certain element of suspense. His method of direction, aided and abetted by Steve Fisher's economical script, is one of sensible brevity without unnecessary frills."[2]


  1. ^ Hell's Half Acre at IMDb.
  2. ^ The New York Times. Film review, February 27, 1954. Last accessed: February 7, 2008.

External linksEdit