Safe in Hell (1931)
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Damn, that was a good film. A film noir way before the film noir era or a proto-noir or pre noir film, if you like. This is shockingly bleak, beautifully filmed and wonderfully compassionate. A prostitute on the run and a corrupt world run by men who have only one goal, to rule over and dominate our heroine. This should be a classic but instead it is a forgotten, and rather badly reviewed film on IMdb (only 7/10, with 421 votes) and only one one list on iCM (Doubling the Canon, with only 58 checks). Why the hell is this not better known? A brilliant pre-code film, well made, interesting and a undiscovered masterpiece.
Safe in Hell is a pre-Code sizzler about a girl who leaves her old boyfriend for dead in a building fire and hides out on a no-extradition Caribbean island, after marrying her current beau. Her promises of fidelity are tested at every turn by a cast of men frequenting the same hotel/bar, but the intrigue of the film is actually seeing how far she'll go to keep her vows. Tragedy may well ensue, but the movie has a lightly comic touch in the second act, as many of her suitors have zany personalities. I also have a lot of affection for the lively barmaid played by Nina Mae McKinney. This movie really belongs to Dorothy Mackaill, who's very strong compared to most of the no-names she's playing off against (the man she's devoted to is especially bland, and it looks like the island's executioner and main antagonist climbed out of a dumpster). She's good, and the direction is good, with lots of great shots and moments. So it's a little unfortunate that the sound is sometimes distorted, though the dialog came out of the early talky era unscathed at least.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!