Hell Below Zero
Directed byMark Robson
Written byRichard Maibaum
Screenplay byAlec Coppel
Max Trell
Based onThe White South
by Hammond Innes
Produced byIrving Allen
Albert R. Broccoli
StarringAlan Ladd
Joan Tetzel
Basil Sydney
Stanley Baker
CinematographyJohn Wilcox
Edited byJohn D. Guthridge
Music byClifton Parker
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 13 January 1954 (1954-01-13) (London)
  • 16 July 1954 (1954-07-16) (US)
Running time
91 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$1 million (approx)[1]
Box office$1.7 million[2]

Hell Below Zero is a 1954 British-American adventure film directed by Mark Robson and starring Alan Ladd, Joan Tetzel, Basil Sydney and Stanley Baker. It was written by Alec Coppel and Max Trell based on the 1949 novel The White South by Hammond Innes, and presents interesting footage of whaling fleets in action.[3] It was the second of Ladd's films for Warwick Films.


Captain Nordahl, an associate in a Norwegian whaling company, Bland-Nordahl, is on a factory ship Southern Harvester in Antarctic waters, when he is lost overboard.

Duncan Craig, an American, meets Judie Nordahl, the captain's daughter on his way to South Africa, where he gets even with a business partner who cheated him. With little money left and a desire to see Judie again, Craig signs on to be a mate on the ship taking Judie to Antarctica.

On arrival in Antarctic waters, Craig finds suspicious evidence that seems to implicate skipper Erik Bland, the new captain of the factory ship, in a conspiracy. Another murder follows and the film concludes with a dramatic showdown on the ice.



The movie was part of a two-picture deal Ladd made with Warwick Films, following The Red Beret.[4][5][6] Ladd was paid $200,000 against 10% of the profits.[1] During production it was known as White South and White Mantle.[7] Director Mark Robson wanted Eugene Pallette to play a role but Pallette was unhappy with the size of the part in the script.[8]

Shooting took place at Pinewood Studios near London.[9] The film included location footage shot in Antarctic waters. Albert Broccoli accompanied a second unit crew down there for over three months.[10] The film's sets were designed by the art director Alex Vetchinsky.

The budget was £247,512 plus the fees of Ladd, Broccoli and Allen, screenwriter Maibaum and the director.[11]


According to Kinematograph Weekly the film was a "money maker" at the British box office in 1954.[12]


  1. ^ a b Scheuer, Philip K. (June 13, 1954). "A TOWN CALLED HOLLYWOOD: Producers Want English Clear--Even in Oklahoma". Los Angeles Times. p. D4.
  2. ^ "1954 Box Office Champs". Variety Weekly. January 5, 1955. p. 59. - figures are rentals in the US and Canada
  3. ^ IMDB entry
  4. ^ Broccoli, Albert R. & Zec, Donald (1999). When the Snow Melts: The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli. Trans-Atlantic Publications.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "STUDIOS PLANNING 2 ALAN LADD FILMS: Warwick and Columbia to Join in Offering 'The Red Beret' and 'The White South'". New York Times. July 15, 1952. p. 17.
  6. ^ "LADD PLANS MOVIE OF A WHALING TRIP: Actor to Make 'White South,' About Antarctic Expedition, Abroad for Irving Allen". New York Times. Nov 3, 1952. p. 36.
  7. ^ "ROBSON TO DIRECT WHALING PICTURE: Ladd Stars in 'White Mantle,' to Be Filmed in England for Warwick Productions". New York Times. Dec 3, 1952. p. 45.
  8. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Feb 7, 1953). "Freeman Gives Light on New 3-D Process; Ryan Set for 'Inferno'". Los Angeles Times. p. 13.
  9. ^ "The Future Programme", Kinematograph Weekly, 31 May 1956 p 14
  10. ^ Hopper, Hedda (Feb 6, 1953). "Looking at Hollywood: Alan Ladd and Stanley Baker to Co-Star in Movie of Antarctic". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. b4.
  11. ^ Chapman, J. (2022). The Money Behind the Screen: A History of British Film Finance, 1945-1985. Edinburgh University Press p 358
  12. ^ Billings, Josh (16 December 1954). "Other monkey makers". Kinematograph Weekly. p. 9.