Hell Bent for Leather (1960) (NTSC)

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Released 9-Oct-2019

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1960
Running Time 81:54
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By George Sherman

Starring Audie Murphy
Felicia Farr
Stephen McNally
Robert Middleton
Herbert Rudley
Jan Merlin
Case ?
RPI ? Music Irving Gertz
William Lava

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Hell Bent for Leather starts impressively: a tired, dusty man (Jan Merlin) carrying a fancy looking shotgun stumbles across a dry, rock strewn desert landscape. He comes across the camp of Clay (Audie Murphy) who gives the man water and offers food, but Clay is clubbed to the ground and the man steals his horse. Clay manages to get off of a shot, wounding the man who drops his shotgun; now it is Clay walking on foot through the desert carrying the dropped shotgun.

     Clay walks into an almost deserted small town and seeks to buy a horse. Most of the townspeople are at the funeral of a local family who were murdered by a killer named Travers but one recognises the shotgun carried by Clay as belonging to Travers and Clay is captured by townspeople led by Ambrose (Robert Middleton) and Perrick (Herbert Rudley). No-one actually knows what Travers looks like but they consider the shotgun conclusive evidence that this is Travers, no matter what Clay says, and they prepare for a lynching. At this point Marshall Deckett (Stephen McNally), a man who has been hunting Travers for months and knows what he looks like, turns up. For reasons of his own Deckett identifies Clay as Travers, even though he knows this is not true, and takes him away to Denver for trial and a hanging. Left in an impossible situation, Clay escapes and takes Janet (Felicia Farr) as a hostage. With Deckett and the posse hot on their trail Clay realises that to prove his innocence he needs to find Travers. Janet, once she is convinced that Clay is not Travers, is willing to help; if only they can get to Travers before Deckett gets to them.

     Hell Bent for Leather is a superior B western. It was mostly filmed on location on the wide rocky and desert vistas of the Lone Pine region of California and cinematographer Clifford Stine takes full advantage of the landscape with a number of widescreen shots featuring tiny human figures amid the harshness of the brown, dusty, rocky landscape (pause at 34:44 for a good example). Indeed, in its depiction of humans isolated in a hostile landscape Hell Bent for Leather reminds one of the B westerns Bud Boetticher was making with around this time with Randolph Scott that are classics of the genre including the fabulous Ride Lonesome and Comanche Station. Not that director George Sherman is in the same class as Boetticher, although he does a good job, and while Audie Murphy doesn’t have the presence of Randolph Scott his performance in Hell Bent for Leather is very good and he works well with Felicia Farr (who a few years previously had been in the original 3:10 to Yuma (1957)).

     Hell Bent for Leather is very entertaining. It includes some good sequences of slowly building tension, such as when Clay and Janet wait in the saloon anticipating the arrival of Travers, each person who enters increasing the tension. There are also galloping horses, shootouts, a lawman who is not quite what he seems, danger and a bit of romance.

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Transfer Quality


     Hell Bent for Leather is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC and is16x9 enhanced.

     Filmed in Cinemascope and Eastman colour Hell Bent for Leather takes full advantage of the rocky and desert vistas of the Lone Pine region of California with tiny human figures amid the harsh brown and dusty desert, or the brown and grey rock formations. Detail is strong and colours are dusty but natural, the exception being the very vivid red lipstick of Felicia Farr that looks incongruous. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, skin tones natural. I saw a few small marks and one vertical scratch but otherwise this is a nice presentation.

     No subtitles are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.

     Hell Bent for Leather was released with mono audio and I was surprised at how good this mono audio sounded. The galloping horses’ hooves had a nice resonance, the gunshots were loud and clear, there were good thunder and rain effects and the wind was constantly blowing. Dialogue is clean. The music by Irving Gertz and William Lava was rather strident!

     There was no hiss or crackle.

    Lip synchronisation is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     Nothing. The silent menu offers only “Play”.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     I can only find Spanish, German and French stand-alone releases of Hell Bent for Leather. In Australia the film was part of the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection II, which is part of this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. See the summary section below.


     Hell Bent for Leather is a very entertaining B western typical of the late 50’s, early 60’s with a case of mistaken identity, a killer on the loose, gunplay, a chaste romance and a duplicitous villain. The Cinemascope presentation is stunning.

     The video is very good for 60 year old film, the audio is the original mono nicely rendered, no extras.

     Hell Bent for Leather is included in the 14 disc / 14 film set Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. The 14 movies, made by Murphy between 1950 and 1966, are all westerns except for the army comedy Joe Butterfly. The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is made up from the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection and the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection II. But if you are a fan of westerns or a fan of Audie Murphy and don’t have those two earlier collections, this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is a good buy.

     The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection was supplied for review by Via Vision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, November 04, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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