At "Satan & Co., Inc.", the Devil is upset because too many people are going up to Heaven rather than down to Hades. He gives his assistant, Mr. Burns the task of getting more people to his... See full summary »
At "Satan & Co., Inc.", the Devil is upset because too many people are going up to Heaven rather than down to Hades. He gives his assistant, Mr. Burns the task of getting more people to his domain. In front of a nightclub, Mr. Burns invites a crowd of people to come inside to "The Devil's Cabaret" and be entertained. After they enjoy songs and dancing, the people go willingly to Hades. Written by
David Glagovsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Another gem found by TCM, this pre-Code (1931) short has to be seen to be believed. "Hades" (the word "hell" is not used until the punchline) is need of new recruits, or so says "Mr. Satan" to his VP, Howie Burns (cute name!) The first clue that we are in the pre-Code era is the skimpy outfit worn by Mary Carlisle as Satan's secretary--hot hot hot. Burns and Satan have a brief exchange loaded with topical references of the day: when the secretary announces a call from Chicago, machine gun fire is heard in the background, and there is some banter about Scarface as well. Also, Satan reacts with disgust when the possibility of a stockbroker coming their way is raised by Burns (remember, this is not long after the stock market crash).
Eventually Burns heads to Earth (and a speakeasy) for more recruits. Those induced to go to Hades to keep the good times rolling arrive via slide, where they are treated to most jaw-dropping scene of all: a fairly lavish (for a short) music and dance number, where the dancers rip off their modest, fit-for-a-Quaker outfits to reveal their "satanic" (and scanty) outfits (complete with little horns), and surround a giant, illuminated devil's head that rises out of the center stage. Along with the "Marijuana" musical number in Murder at the Vanities, this is one of the pre-Code musical bits most likely to surprise modern audiences; I'm sure some religious types would take offense even now. One can only imagine what they thought back in 1931 (I guess the movement to enforce the Production Code, which achieved success in 1934, might offer a clue!)
This film is also a very good example of the two-strip technicolor technique used sporadically before the full, three-strip process was introduced in Becky Sharp (1935). The two-strip process doesn't really render hues of blue, but that flaw is not overwhelming in a short largely set in the reddish confines of "Hades".
You may need the luck of the Devil to catch this treat on TCM, so keep watching!
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