Safe in Hell (1931)

65 mins | Melodrama | 12 December 1931

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writer:

Houston Branch

Cinematographer:

Sid Hickox

Editor:

Owen Marks

Production Designer:

Jack Okey

Production Company:

First National Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film's pre-release titles were Lady from New Orleans and Lost Lady . According to news items in FD , Lillian Bond, David Manners, Boris Karloff, John Harrington, Montague Love and Richard Bennett were originally announced in the cast, and Michael Curtiz was originally assigned to direct. Barbara Stanwyck was also considered for the lead. The song "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" is sung by Nina Mae McKinney. Some modern sources have stated that at a time when the portrayal of African Americans in films was stereotyped, Nina Mae McKinney and Clarence Muse played the only two reputable people in the film. The film was advertised as being "Not for ... More Less

The film's pre-release titles were Lady from New Orleans and Lost Lady . According to news items in FD , Lillian Bond, David Manners, Boris Karloff, John Harrington, Montague Love and Richard Bennett were originally announced in the cast, and Michael Curtiz was originally assigned to direct. Barbara Stanwyck was also considered for the lead. The song "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" is sung by Nina Mae McKinney. Some modern sources have stated that at a time when the portrayal of African Americans in films was stereotyped, Nina Mae McKinney and Clarence Muse played the only two reputable people in the film. The film was advertised as being "Not for Children." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
7 Jun 31
p. 4.
Film Daily
27 Aug 31
p. 8.
Film Daily
13 Sep 31
p. 4-5.
Film Daily
18 Oct 31
p. 4.
Film Daily
29 Oct 31
p. 19.
Film Daily
20 Dec 31
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 31
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
26 Dec 31
p. 30.
New York Times
19 Dec 31
p. 16.
Variety
22 Dec 31
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITERS
Adpt and dial
Adpt and dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Vitaphone Orch cond
SOURCES
SONGS
"When It's Sleepy Time Down South," music and lyrics by Clarence Muse
"Pagan Moon," music by Joseph Burke, lyrics by Al Dubin and Al Bryan.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Lost Lady
Lady from New Orleans
Release Date:
12 December 1931
Production Date:
mid September--18 October 1931
Copyright Claimant:
First National Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 December 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2683
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
65
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

The services of New Orleans call girl Gilda Karlson are requested by a man whose wife is out of town. On arrival, she discovers that the man is Piet Van Saal, whose previous unwelcome advances had led her into prostitution. When Gilda tries to leave, they struggle and she hits him with a vase. Van Saal collapses and Gilda believes he is dead. When the room then catches on fire, she runs away. The next morning, she learns that the building burned down, and that she is wanted for Van Saal's murder. Just as she is about to run away, her seaman boyfriend, Carl Erickson, arrives in town after a long voyage. He is now an officer and earns enough money to get married. Gilda insists that she can never marry him, and when Carl demands an explanation, she tells him that Van Saal broke into her room while she was working as his secretary, his wife found him there and fired her. After that, she had Gilda fired from every job she took until finally she had to resort to prostitution. At first Carl is furious at Gilda, but when he hears the approaching police sirens and realizes that he still loves her, he relents and smuggles her aboard his ship. He takes her to an island in the Caribbean from where criminals cannot be extradited. Gilda is the only white woman on the island, which is inhabited mainly by criminals. Finding no minister on the island, Carl and Gilda are married in a ceremony they invent themselves. Carl continues his voyage, leaving Gilda behind, sworn ... +


The services of New Orleans call girl Gilda Karlson are requested by a man whose wife is out of town. On arrival, she discovers that the man is Piet Van Saal, whose previous unwelcome advances had led her into prostitution. When Gilda tries to leave, they struggle and she hits him with a vase. Van Saal collapses and Gilda believes he is dead. When the room then catches on fire, she runs away. The next morning, she learns that the building burned down, and that she is wanted for Van Saal's murder. Just as she is about to run away, her seaman boyfriend, Carl Erickson, arrives in town after a long voyage. He is now an officer and earns enough money to get married. Gilda insists that she can never marry him, and when Carl demands an explanation, she tells him that Van Saal broke into her room while she was working as his secretary, his wife found him there and fired her. After that, she had Gilda fired from every job she took until finally she had to resort to prostitution. At first Carl is furious at Gilda, but when he hears the approaching police sirens and realizes that he still loves her, he relents and smuggles her aboard his ship. He takes her to an island in the Caribbean from where criminals cannot be extradited. Gilda is the only white woman on the island, which is inhabited mainly by criminals. Finding no minister on the island, Carl and Gilda are married in a ceremony they invent themselves. Carl continues his voyage, leaving Gilda behind, sworn to faithfulness. The men at the hotel all try to seduce her, but Gilda remains true to her vow, eventually impressing everybody with her sincerity. The only man who still has designs on Gilda is Bruno, the island's executioner. He steals the money that Carl sends her, hoping to convince her that she has been forgotten. One day, Van Saal arrives on a ship. Although everyone believes him to be dead, he actually survived the fire, and he and his wife illegally collected his life insurance. Now he intends to hide out on the island until things quiet down. Realizing that she did not actually murder Van Saal, Gilda is eager to return home. Van Saal tells everyone about Gilda's past, and one of the men, believing he is entitled to her favors, attacks her. Bruno saves her from the assault and gives her a gun, telling her that, although they are illegal on the island, she can have one with his permission. Later, when Van Saal breaks into Gilda's room, she shoots him. One of the hotel guests, a crooked lawyer, defends her at the trial. She is about to be acquitted when Bruno tells her that even if she gets off, he will jail her for possession of a deadly weapon. He suggests that if she will sleep with him, he will let her go. Rather than break her promise to Carl, she confesses to murder, preferring death to dishonesty. When Carl returns, she agrees to meet him in New Orleans, but after his ship leaves again, goes to her death, having kept her vow. +

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

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