Spencer Tracy travels the seven rungs of hell in "Dante's Inferno," a 1935 film costarring Claire Trevor and notable for a dance sequence featuring Rita Hayworth, still Rita Cansino. I actually hadn't realized Hayworth was in the film, but when I saw the dancer's smile, I recognized her immediately.
Tracy plays a man who lucks into carnival barking as a result of meeting a man, played by Henry B. Walthall, who runs a concession known as "Dante's Inferno." Walthall soon becomes Tracy's father-in-law, and Tracy becomes a successful businessman. He launches a huge, gaudy Inferno employing ruthless means to get the property. Though a wonderful husband and father, in his corporate world, he stops at nothing to get what he wants, including cheating, bribery, and ignoring possible dangers. The consequences are disastrous.
The film has an obvious allegory, and I'm still laughing at a previous poster who noted that when Walthall goes through a book with Tracy and the seven rungs of hell come to life, everyone had great physiques so hell must not take chubsters! It's true! Other than hell's preference for perfect 10s, the effects are amazing - the Inferno concession, the images in the book that come to life, and the fantastic ship scene which uses the Inferno images to great effect.
Spencer Tracy is excellent in his role, a tender dad, sweet husband and cruel businessman all at the same time. Claire Trevor is young and lovely and provides strong support for Tracy.
A very interesting film and highly recommended.
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