Rhonda Fleming, William Lundigan, and Robert Ryan in Inferno (1953)


(director: Roy Ward Baker; screenwriter: Francis Cockrell; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editor: Robert Simpson; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Robert Ryan ( Donald Whitley Carson III), Rhonda Fleming (Geraldine Carson), William Lundigan (Joseph Duncan), Henry Hull (Sam Elby); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Bloom; 20th-Century Fox; 1953)

“Loses something when not seen in 3-D.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Inferno loses something when not seen in 3-D as intended when released, nevertheless it remains as a taut survival thriller. It makes good use of 3-D, in fact it does it better than most other such gimmicky films. It’s directed by Roy Ward Baker and written by Francis Cockrell. The desert photography by Lucien Ballard is stunning.

Millionaire Don Carson (Robert Ryan) breaks a leg falling into a deep canyon on a southwestern desert outing (near the Mexican border) and his gorgeous red-headed wife Geraldine (Rhonda Fleming) and her struggling surveyor lover Joseph Duncan (William Lundigan), who only met two days ago, leave him stranded there to die without food and very little water. Carson is depicted as an unpleasant drunk and someone who is hard to get along with. But while fighting for survival, the unsympathetic character after a week of hardship begins to gain the viewer’s sympathy as he swears to live if only to get vengeance on his would-be killers. It ends with a pleasantly surprise climax.

It’s too bad 3-D died out so quickly in the 1950s, wasting a novel idea that had great potential. This film, which I happened to see on 3-D as a youngster, made good use of space (as far as I can recall) that few other such films of that period did.