The Hellfire Club was made in 1961 and was produced by Robert Baker and Monty Berman. The reviews of this movie have been overall positive in film guides and other publications and will definitely be a winning movie for anyone that enjoys films that feature swashbucklers. You may or may not be able to pick it up on a television screening and it may also be available at some subscription sites such as Netflix or Hulu.
If you do happen upon it, try to tape it or PVR it so that you can also share it with others, as it is definitely worth the view. You might also find it at some niche rental stores on DVD. The same team behind 1958’s Blood of the Vampire are the pair that is also behind The Hellfire Club. This genre of swashbuckler films was very popular throughout the 50’s and Hollywood was really pumping them out in this decade. It was only a matter of time before the European market also glommed on to it and soon they were coming out of studios in France, Britain and Italy.
The Hellfire Club is based on the life of a toppled aristocrat who is making a valiant attempt to regain his social and financial position, not unlike Tyrone Power in 1942’s adventure Son of Fury. The primary character, Jason, played by Keith Michell is sabotaged by his evil cousin, Thomas, played by Peter Arne who sets about to claim his title, his social position and consequently, the lands the he owns. Jason then takes the advice of his lawyer to determine what he will need to gather from his castle in order to prove his rightful ownership.
The boy and his mother had originally fled the lands earlier in his life due to a mishap the involved his father that was involved in all kinds of debauchery that the son ended up witnessing in their basement. These kinds of exploitations do not feature prominently in the film and are only depicted briefly at the beginning and at the end of the film as odd kinds of orgies. This is likely how the film gets its name as it alludes to the 18th century British gentlemen’s clubs that were structured to allow men of society to get away with certain depravity. The slight allusion in the move are not terribly shocking and merely provide context, although there are a few occasions where you can catch a glimpse of the bare backs of some of the actresses in the movie.
As he grows up, Jason becomes involved with a band of circus performers traveling around the country and he becomes an acrobat, with excellent skills for strength and agility. When he is forced to take on his cousin, these qualities come into play to assist him when he must have swordfights, escape from prisons, avoid floggings and do impersonations to hide his identity. All kinds of theatrics are incorporated in his adventure which makes for a fast paced action-packed film. The musical score is an appropriate accompaniment and the movie on the whole is a good representation of the British genre of the decade.