Hell Is Empty
Directed byJohn Ainsworth
Bernard Knowles
Screenplay byJohn Ainsworth
Based ona screenplay by Bernard Knowles
& George Fowler;
and the novel Hell Is Empty by J.F. Straker (1958)
Produced byMichael Eland
StarringAnthony Steel
Shirley Anne Field
James Robertson Justice
Jess Conrad
Martine Carol
CinematographySasa Hunka
Jan Stallich
Edited byJim Connock
Music byGeorges Garvarentz
Dominion Films
Distributed byRank Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • December 1967 (1967-12)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Hell is Empty is a 1967 British crime film directed by Bernard Knowles and John Ainsworth, and starring Martine Carol, Anthony Steel, Shirley Anne Field and James Robertson Justice.[1][2]

Filming began in 1965 under the direction of Bernard Knowles, but was suspended on the death of Martine Carol. Production was later resumed with John Ainsworth as director.[3]


On the run from the police, thieves stumble upon an abandoned mansion on a deserted island.[4]



The film was made by Absorbing Films, which had been set up by Michael Eaton-Eland, a prominent London figure[citation needed], who wanted to move into filmmaking. Filming started in December 1965 on the isle of Capri. It was Martine Carol's first movie in three years[5] and one of a number of films Steel made in Europe.[6]

The film was shot in Italy and Yugoslavia. However several of the actors and technicians claimed they had not been paid. Filming came to a halt. Carole married Eaton-Eland in June 1966, at which stage the film had not been completed.[7]

Carol died of a heart attack in February 1967.[8] Production resumed under director John Ainsworth.


The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "The nonsensical story, which ten years ago might at least have had an overtone of reality within a small budget black-and-white framework, has here exploded into sumptuous colour, extravagant locations and a gimcrack way with camera zooms. But beneath the reconditioned exterior, the old-fashioned gears set up an awful grinding: the crooks are a coarse lot, their robbery is by modern standards very rudimentary, and their hostages make a determined English parlour setting out of their indeterminate foreign locale. James Robertson Justice's Shakespearian authority is as tedious as his usual blustery impersonations; but no one could be expected to perform any miracles with the dilapidated dialogue, and no one does. "[9]


  1. ^ "Hell Is Empty". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  2. ^ "Hell Is Empty (1967)". Archived from the original on 27 October 2017.
  3. ^ HELL IS EMPTY Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 37, Iss. 432, (Jan 1, 1970): 226.
  4. ^ "Hell Is Empty (1967) - John Ainsworth, Bernard Knowles - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  5. ^ Martine Has All Clothes in This Role Los Angeles Times 27 Dec 1965: d17.
  6. ^ Vagg, Stephen (23 September 2020). "The Emasculation of Anthony Steel: A Cold Streak Saga". Filmink.
  7. ^ DAVID WYNNE-MORGAN London Life; London (Jul 30, 1966): 10, 12.
  8. ^ MARTINE CAROL, FRENCH ACTRESS: Screen Star Who Appeared in Over 40 Films Dies New York Times 7 Feb 1967: 39.
  9. ^ "Hell Is Empty". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 37 (432): 226. 1 January 1970 – via ProQuest.