Interesting film this one. A ‘Western’ really which was set in South Africa. Stills from the film above.
This one had 50 s pop idol Marty Wilde in the cast with Richard Todd starring. He was very good as usual.
Luke Billings (Lionel Jeffries) and his family have a problem with the new police sergeant Sam Hargis (Richard Todd) so they take over a small Transvaal town with the attention of drawing Hargis into a showdown.
Hargis tries to get back up from the townsfolk who do not want to know, so is forced to lay low.
As things get out of hand one of the Billings boys takes an interest in the storekeeper’s wife, Priss Dobbs (Anne Aubrey). Having had enough her husband, Ernie (Jamie Uys) takes up the gun and heads down the main street alone. An act that prompts Hargis to join him. Slowly, the townsfolk turn up to back them up.
This is a great ‘western’ set against a South African background.
Above: Anne Aubrey one of the stars of the film – Director Ken Annakin was none too complimentary about her abilities in his Autobiography which I recommend to all readers – Its title is ‘So You Wanna Be a Director’
James Booth who plays the eldest of the Billings boys, Jubal, is excellent with his soft yet menacing voice.
This film marked the debut of one of Britain’s pop idols, Marty Wilde, as John Billings and gives a credible performance.
Unfortunately, this film has not appeared on TV, video or DVD.
The Hellions (1962)
The Hellions is just like a western, only set in the South African Transvaal. The title characters are Luke Billings and his four sons, desperados all, who invade a dusty little town to settle an old score with the newly-appointed marshal, Sam Hargiss. Unable to mobilize the cowardly townspeople for help, and unwilling to face the Hellions alone, Hargiss hides at home with his pregnant wife, while the Billings gang misbehaves with impunity all over town. Finally old Luke Billings makes a pass at the wife of timid shopkeeper Ernest Dobbs. Though wussy in the extreme and a poor marksman, Dobbs is so outraged by this transgression that he marches down the main street with a rifle, to confront the Billings gang single-handed. This inspires the marshal and the townspeople to unite behind him. The film ends with the Hellions dead and virtue triumphant.
James Booth is in great form playing this scary and out-of-control character, like a more sinister version of Ernest T. Bass, Jubal delights in firing his gun at whiskey bottles and human beings. He talks in a soft, sugary voice full of menace, laughs maniacally, and walks like a pimp. Weeks away from a shave or haircut, Booth looks young, fit, and handsome. His rumpled, tough-guy rags are torn open to the waist, revealing a strip of hairless chest and flat stomach.
As usual, some of his best moments are silent—e.g. the absurd “grooming” scene on the street before he accosts the woman in blue, and the fight scene at the end (where he wields a pitchfork and an axe).
Fans of Zulu will notice that certain details of that great film are anticipated in The Hellions. Jubal’s neck scarf and some of his mannerisms carry over to the character Booth plays in Zulu. Also the South African actor Gert Van Den Bergh, who plays Dr. Weiser in The Hellions, will reappear in Zulu as Adendorff.
Above – Press cutting from a German Magazine at the time.
Also – what about the theme song – sung by Marty Wilde
“Live by the gun/then sure as the sunrise/die by the gun you must/just as the Hellions/one by one/died in the Transvaal dust.”