A Passport to Hell (1932)

72 or 75 mins | Drama | 14 August 1932

Director:

Frank Lloyd

Cinematographer:

John F. Seitz

Editor:

Harold Schuster

Production Designer:

William Darling

Production Company:

Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

Working titles for this film were Undesirable Lady and Burnt Offering . According to Fox publicity material, actor Melvyn Douglas was originally cast in the role played by Paul Lukas. The publicity material also notes that the ship appearing in the film as the African coast steamer was the Playa Ensenada , a former "mystery ship" used during the war to track down enemy submarines, and was once owned by world heavy-weight boxing champion Jack Dempsey. According to the file for the film in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, when Fox applied for a certificate to reissue the film, the Hays Office wrote that "the picture contains the element of the wife's adultery, apparently without the proper compensating moral values," and suggested that the studio withdraw its request. Modern sources indicate that filming took place on Santa Catalina Island, ... More Less

Working titles for this film were Undesirable Lady and Burnt Offering . According to Fox publicity material, actor Melvyn Douglas was originally cast in the role played by Paul Lukas. The publicity material also notes that the ship appearing in the film as the African coast steamer was the Playa Ensenada , a former "mystery ship" used during the war to track down enemy submarines, and was once owned by world heavy-weight boxing champion Jack Dempsey. According to the file for the film in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, when Fox applied for a certificate to reissue the film, the Hays Office wrote that "the picture contains the element of the wife's adultery, apparently without the proper compensating moral values," and suggested that the studio withdraw its request. Modern sources indicate that filming took place on Santa Catalina Island, CA. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
2 Jul 32
p. 4.
Film Daily
25 Aug 32
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 32
p. 3.
International Photographer
1 Sep 32
p. 33.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Sep 32
p. 43.
New York Times
27 Aug 32
p. 13.
Variety
30 Aug 32
p. 21.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Undesirable Lady
Release Date:
14 August 1932
Production Date:
began 25 April 1932
Copyright Claimant:
Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 July 1932
Copyright Number:
LP3171
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
72 or 75
Length(in feet):
6,820
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Just prior to the outbreak of World War I, in the British West African town of Akkra, English woman Myra Carson becomes involved in a scandal and is deported. While Myra's ship is docked at Duala, in German West Africa, the war breaks out and she finds herself facing internment by the Germans. However, Erich Von Sydow, the son of German commandant Baron Von Sydow, soon befriends Myra and tries to prevent her imprisonment by telling officials that he will personally vouch for her. When the baron discovers that his son has overridden his authority, he becomes angry and insists on an interrogation. The baron then sends Myra back to the ship, where she is to be confined. Despite her internment, Erich manages to smuggle Myra ashore in the evenings, and romance soon flourishes. Shortly after Erich and Myra marry, the baron discovers a report from Akkra detailing Myra's "undesirable and immoral character" and, as punishment for his son's refusal to annul his marriage, the baron sends Erich to a jungle outpost. Erich takes Myra with him, but finds that he must leave her with her new maid, Sheba, for weeks while he is away on business. Bored and lonely, Myra asks to be allowed to go to Duella while he is gone, but Erich says that he cannot afford to send her there. One day, while Erich is away on business, Myra has an affair with Lieutenant "Kurt" Kurtoff, a military mapmaker and a friend of Erich's. When the baron makes a surprise inspection of the jungle outpost, Myra is humiliated in front of Kurt, and Kurt asks the baron for ... +


Just prior to the outbreak of World War I, in the British West African town of Akkra, English woman Myra Carson becomes involved in a scandal and is deported. While Myra's ship is docked at Duala, in German West Africa, the war breaks out and she finds herself facing internment by the Germans. However, Erich Von Sydow, the son of German commandant Baron Von Sydow, soon befriends Myra and tries to prevent her imprisonment by telling officials that he will personally vouch for her. When the baron discovers that his son has overridden his authority, he becomes angry and insists on an interrogation. The baron then sends Myra back to the ship, where she is to be confined. Despite her internment, Erich manages to smuggle Myra ashore in the evenings, and romance soon flourishes. Shortly after Erich and Myra marry, the baron discovers a report from Akkra detailing Myra's "undesirable and immoral character" and, as punishment for his son's refusal to annul his marriage, the baron sends Erich to a jungle outpost. Erich takes Myra with him, but finds that he must leave her with her new maid, Sheba, for weeks while he is away on business. Bored and lonely, Myra asks to be allowed to go to Duella while he is gone, but Erich says that he cannot afford to send her there. One day, while Erich is away on business, Myra has an affair with Lieutenant "Kurt" Kurtoff, a military mapmaker and a friend of Erich's. When the baron makes a surprise inspection of the jungle outpost, Myra is humiliated in front of Kurt, and Kurt asks the baron for advancement to leave. When the baron denies his request, Kurt resigns from the service. Later, the baron grants Myra's wish to leave, but before she departs, Sergeant Snyder, a British agent posing as a German officer, tries to bribe her into stealing one of Kurt's secret maps. Myra refuses to accept the bribe, but Erich, who overheard the offer, and is still madly in love with her, tries to help her by sending her the amount of the bribe out of his own pocket. When the baron discovers that the map is missing, suspicion is immediately cast upon Myra, and she and Snyder are arrested. Following Myra's arrest, Erich commits suicide and leaves a letter in which he confesses his treason and proves Myra's innocence. As a result, the baron has a change of heart and apologizes to Myra for trying to break her will. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.