2 December 2007 | bkoganbing
Making Money With Hell
Dante's Inferno was Spencer Tracy's final film for Fox before settling in at MGM where his career really took off. It was probably one of the biggest budget films Fox had ever done up to that time with two disasters and a dream sequence of hell.
Tracy plays a ship stoker and would be con man who gets fired off his ship for malingering. Down on his luck, kindly old Henry B. Walthall who owns a sideshow attraction at a carnival midway takes him in and Walthall's daughter Claire Trevor falls for him.
Spence is nothing if not determined to make something of himself and he becomes a rich man in the amusement game. But his ethics leave a lot to be desired.
The title is not Dante Alighieri's famous poetic saga of his journey through hell, but it's the name of the exhibit that Walthall owns. It's 'educational' but Tracy starts on his road to financial success by glamorizing the more prurient aspects of it.
The Inferno catches fire and there's a climatic ship's fire as well that Cecil B. DeMille could not have staged better. One wishes the film had been in color for that as well as the imaginary ten minute journey through hell that Walthall describes to Tracy.
The dancing team on the ship before the fire marks the screen debut of one Marguerite Carmen Cansino or better known as Rita Hayworth. She was quite the dancer on screen as well as in this person's opinion, the biggest sex symbol the screen ever knew.
Dante's Inferno was a fine film for Tracy to leave Fox with. But it would have astonished the executives at Fox if they could have imagined the career direction it would take at MGM.