What’s Love Got To Do With It?: “Hell is Sold Out” (1951)



Hell Shocked: A confused and glum Dominic Danges (Herbert Lom) can’t understand how a bestselling book which he never wrote has his name on the cover in Michael Anderson’s romantic comedy (or is it a drama) “Hell is Sold Out”.

       “Hell is Sold Out”  (1951)

    One need not be Ernst Lubitsch to direct a stylish romance, but on the evidence of “Hell is Sold Out”, it pays not to be Michael Anderson.  It doesn’t matter that the plot , takenhellissoldoutLC from a novel by Maurice Dekobra, is no more preposterous than most concocted for many  celebrated Hollywood fabrications (certainly not those firmly footed in the dizzy realm of screwball comedy), but if the resultant movie cannot commit to whether it wishes to be amusing or dramatic, the rusty mechanics of forced contrivance are bound to assert themselves in pronounced ways that emphasize the deficiencies in writing, direction and the resultant disjointed performances.

    Popular novelist and French Resistance fighter Dominic Danges (Herbert Lom), a POW mistakenly reported killed, returns to find his latest book has become a tremendous bestseller. The only problem is, he didn’t write it. Nor the one before that. Nor does he hellissoldout2recognize Valerie Martin (Mai Zetterling), a Swedish woman who is masquerading as his widow, and who is the actual author of Danges’ two fraudulent works. Predictable complications arise concerning Dominic’s continued literary reputation and the usual love/hate signals shot back and forth between Dominic and Valerie, temporarily complicated by Danges’ POW buddy Pierre (Richard Attenborough) whose feelings toward Valerie creates a romantic triangle that is sensed by all but never explicitly articulated.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/matinees-at-the-bijoux/

About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in books, British films, comedy, Mai Zetterling., movie reviews, Movies, Romance, women, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What’s Love Got To Do With It?: “Hell is Sold Out” (1951)

  1. Dolly West says:

    Just saw this for the first time in full. I had been intrigued by stumbling on it in the middle somewhere, thinking it was a film noir of the era… fully expecting that foul play was afoot with the sinister look of Herbert Lom, etc. Sat through the whole thing and completely taken aback that… nothing happens… As other reviewers remark, the movie can’t make up its mind if it’s a comedy of errors, a potential tragedy… just a mildly pleasant look at life at that time, nothing more…

    • And no chemistry between the leads as well. It’s difficult to fathom what they had in mind with this (certainly that bizarre title doesn’t help) and I can’t imagine that a movie this colorless came from the same director who would make the underappreciated “The Quiller Memorandum”.

  2. beetleypete says:

    Herbert Lom was such a natural villain, it is hard to see him in any other type of role. I have never seen this film, and will happily add it to that list of films I never have to see, because you have already watched them for me. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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