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Theodore von Eltz
If a lot of people, from vastly different backgrounds, bet on different horses in the same race, most will be disappointed. All seem to have worthwhile motives and causes, and this makes it tough for the moviegoer watching "From Hell To Heaven" to pick a rooting interest throughout the film. They all come to the same hotel awaiting for the big race, hence the "Grand Hotel" type milieu.
Paramount assembled an impressive cast for this horse racing drama, most of whom are forgotten nowadays. Carole Lombard may be the most recognizable name, but she was still playing straight dramatic parts and not doing 'screwball' comedies yet. Jack Oakie is along for comic relief and brings his considerable energy as the track announcer. Also in the cast - and worthy of mention - are some long-ago stars, like Cecil Cunningham, who played parts later taken by Helen Broderick and Alice Brady, and Sidney Blackmer, who later played heavies. This is an old-fashioned track flick and fashionistas will get a kick out of the 30's outfits, while history buffs will take note of a time when bookmakers were legal and jockeys apparently could be switched overnight, before a big race.
"From Hell To Heaven" is an interesting and absorbing story which holds the viewers interest and keeps moving for its 70 minute length. There is some genuine suspense regarding the outcome of the big race, and the viewer can build up sympathy for several of the principals. This played at Capitolfest, Rome, NY, 8/13, and was shown in 35mm.
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