The Hellions review, The New York Times, 3/15/62, 28:2
When British filmmakers set out to make a Western, trust them to instill it with a full quota of social content. "The Hellions," yesterday's new neighborhood theatre horse opera, might better be titled "High Noon on the Veld."
The villains of the title are a family of itinerant outlaws galloping around the Transvaal shooting up everybody who owns a barbed-wire fence. How they have managed to survive so long is only one of this ludicrous melodrama's unanswered questions, since each of the quintet consumes whiskey at the rate of three fifths per hour.
After terrorizing the countryside, they descend en mass upon a burgeoning rustic community to even an old grudge with its sheriff--here called a police sergeant to accommodate the British diction of Richard Todd. This brave and solemn man, mindful of his pregnant wife, asks his townspeople for aid in disposing of the ruffians, but the citizens decline.
"A few hours ago," one coward says sadly, "you were all celebrating the birth of a new town. It looks as if it was stillborn." Another bystander more explicitly remarks, "This town doesn't deserve a hero--alive or dead."
Even when delivered in British accents, the dialogue has a familiar ring. So do the actions of the villains, who spend the day gambling, murdering, attacking the womenfolk and making themselves generally obnoxious, while the respectable citizens sit around waiting to be slaughtered and whine.
Almost two hours of this sort of wide-screen drivel go by before Mr. Todd tightens his gun belt and his jaw and concludes these tedious troublemakers' careers. By this time, even the densest viewer will have figured out the moral: it's better to defend yourself than to let yourself be murdered. Neighborhood moviegoers would do well to consider another moral: when the main feature is over, run.