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Nere-do-well Jerry Corbett finally meets and marries the right girl, Joan Prentiss. Unfortunately their wedded bliss is interrupted when Jerry's play becomes a hit and he hooks up with the wrong woman from his past. Joan decides that turn-about is fair play and she picks another man to escort her around to various parties around New York. Eventually Jerry quits drinking and sends his girlfriend packing, just in time for Joan to take him back.Written by
Reporter Jerry Colbert (Fredric March) is in a drunken state when he meets the beautiful Joan (Sylvia Sidney) who just happens to be the daughter of a millionaire. The two hit it off but before long Joan realizes that Jerry has a major issue with alcohol. At first her love is enough to keep him away from the drink but before long he's back on the bottle.
MERRILY WE GO TO HELL has one of the greatest titles of any movie in history but sadly the film itself isn't all that great or even good for that matter. This here is another Pre-code that manages to have some good performances that go wasted on a story that just isn't all that interested. What's worse is the fact that the story is pretty darn predictable from start to finish without any real surprises or fresh moments.
The best thing going for the film are the performances. March, fresh off his Best Actor Oscar win for DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, offers up a good performance in the role of a drunk who can't help but want to party more than stay with his wife. Adrianne Allen plays his former lover and she offers up a fine performance. George Irving has some excellent moments playing Sidney's father. You've even got an early performance from Cary Grant. As far as Sidney goes, she's certainly the best thing about the film. She handles the dramatic moments perfectly but the greatest part comes at the start of the picture with that bubbly personality, which makes you understand why an alcoholic would give up the bottle for her.
This here was years before THE LOST WEEKEND so the subject of alcoholism isn't really dealt with in a strong or graphic way. More than anything we just see the March character as either having too much fun or passing out during moments that he's needed. As it stands, MERRILY WE GO TO HELL might appeal to fans of the cast but the film itself has quite a few problems.
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