Merrily We Go to Hell Reviews

  • Antonius B Super Reviewer
    Mar 17, 2018

    Clever dialogue, fantastic acting, and several great scenes made this film a delight for me, but be forewarned, its main character may have you saying 'grrr', and reduce your enjoyment. Frederic March plays a newspaper reporter / playwright who has a drinking problem, and it's while he's drunk at a party that he meets a charming young lady, played by Sylvia Sidney. The two hit it off and despite the concerns of her rich father (George Irving), get married. Things get complicated when his ex-lover (Adrianne Allen) re-surfaces and he struggles to control his problem. It's a very strong cast all around, and Sidney in particular turns in a great performance. She ranges from a sweet, naïve, and trusting soul, loving unconditionally, to hurt and confused, to woman whose solution is to give her husband a taste of his own medicine, in a rather shocking development. The scene with her partying with her own young lover (Cary Grant no less) and his friends and quipping "Gentlemen, I give you the holy state of matrimony, modern style: single lives, twin beds and triple bromides in the morning" is sad, empowering, and a little thrilling all at the same time. As they're in a bar that's practically a den of iniquity, it's all clearly pre-code, but there is an intelligence and honesty in this scene, and throughout the movie. March is also strong as this affable but flawed man, and in early scenes we smile at his partying, at one point yelling "Is there a baritone in the house?" until he finds a barman to fill out a quartet with his friends so that they can break out in song. The warning signs are there in his tardiness and even at his wedding, as he and his best man (Skeets Gallagher) fumble for the ring, which he's forgotten. That scene is one of several that are well directed by Dorothy Arzner, as she cuts to guests making observations and the facial reactions of March and Sidney as they say their vows. There is a lot of partying and revelry which may put some viewers off, but I found that allowed for some fantastic moments. In one, March asks Sidney to shut the door and hold him back from going to the other woman, and in a strong way she opens it wide and says "I'm no jailer - get out!" In another, as March and Allen 'play-act' a passionate kiss to the merriment of others right in front of her, we feel the shock and humiliation amplified by her brilliant facial reaction. The title is clearly meant to titillate, but the film has real substance beneath. It's wild, but also realistic, though I didn't care too much for the ending. We see what destructive behavior leads to, and in that I suppose there is a message, but it's delivered without heavy-handed moralizing. The plot is a tad melodramatic, but it's daring and unique in the areas it explores. Well worth checking out, if you're in the mood for pre-code.

    Clever dialogue, fantastic acting, and several great scenes made this film a delight for me, but be forewarned, its main character may have you saying 'grrr', and reduce your enjoyment. Frederic March plays a newspaper reporter / playwright who has a drinking problem, and it's while he's drunk at a party that he meets a charming young lady, played by Sylvia Sidney. The two hit it off and despite the concerns of her rich father (George Irving), get married. Things get complicated when his ex-lover (Adrianne Allen) re-surfaces and he struggles to control his problem. It's a very strong cast all around, and Sidney in particular turns in a great performance. She ranges from a sweet, naïve, and trusting soul, loving unconditionally, to hurt and confused, to woman whose solution is to give her husband a taste of his own medicine, in a rather shocking development. The scene with her partying with her own young lover (Cary Grant no less) and his friends and quipping "Gentlemen, I give you the holy state of matrimony, modern style: single lives, twin beds and triple bromides in the morning" is sad, empowering, and a little thrilling all at the same time. As they're in a bar that's practically a den of iniquity, it's all clearly pre-code, but there is an intelligence and honesty in this scene, and throughout the movie. March is also strong as this affable but flawed man, and in early scenes we smile at his partying, at one point yelling "Is there a baritone in the house?" until he finds a barman to fill out a quartet with his friends so that they can break out in song. The warning signs are there in his tardiness and even at his wedding, as he and his best man (Skeets Gallagher) fumble for the ring, which he's forgotten. That scene is one of several that are well directed by Dorothy Arzner, as she cuts to guests making observations and the facial reactions of March and Sidney as they say their vows. There is a lot of partying and revelry which may put some viewers off, but I found that allowed for some fantastic moments. In one, March asks Sidney to shut the door and hold him back from going to the other woman, and in a strong way she opens it wide and says "I'm no jailer - get out!" In another, as March and Allen 'play-act' a passionate kiss to the merriment of others right in front of her, we feel the shock and humiliation amplified by her brilliant facial reaction. The title is clearly meant to titillate, but the film has real substance beneath. It's wild, but also realistic, though I didn't care too much for the ending. We see what destructive behavior leads to, and in that I suppose there is a message, but it's delivered without heavy-handed moralizing. The plot is a tad melodramatic, but it's daring and unique in the areas it explores. Well worth checking out, if you're in the mood for pre-code.

  • Aug 06, 2017

    I caught this on youtube and was captivated. It has bad reviews, but I was fascinated by it being a pre-code film and I found the story compelling (while being hardly original - at least by today's standards). Really funny to see Cary Grant in what is essentially a cameo. Sylvia Sydney was heartbreaking.

    I caught this on youtube and was captivated. It has bad reviews, but I was fascinated by it being a pre-code film and I found the story compelling (while being hardly original - at least by today's standards). Really funny to see Cary Grant in what is essentially a cameo. Sylvia Sydney was heartbreaking.

  • Jun 16, 2013

    Sudsy early 1930s precursor to Days of Wine and Roses; the performances are fine, but the story is predictable.

    Sudsy early 1930s precursor to Days of Wine and Roses; the performances are fine, but the story is predictable.

  • Nov 18, 2012

    what do you have when the main lead march is an unapoogetic alkie who revels in booze and a female sydney is awesome in this she is one of my all time faves who goes 4 drives with men and loves parking? a pre-code melodrama directed by the legendary doroty arzner. don't miss cary grant's 15 seconds as he is billed second to LAST!

    what do you have when the main lead march is an unapoogetic alkie who revels in booze and a female sydney is awesome in this she is one of my all time faves who goes 4 drives with men and loves parking? a pre-code melodrama directed by the legendary doroty arzner. don't miss cary grant's 15 seconds as he is billed second to LAST!

  • Jun 25, 2012

    this is what would be on lifetime today based on a true story

    this is what would be on lifetime today based on a true story

  • jay n Super Reviewer
    Oct 09, 2010

    Sylvia is wonderful here all soulful eyes and wounded dignity with an inner core of strength however March is a contemptable heel and the script isn't really anything special. A very young Cary Grant is in and out of this in about two minutes.

    Sylvia is wonderful here all soulful eyes and wounded dignity with an inner core of strength however March is a contemptable heel and the script isn't really anything special. A very young Cary Grant is in and out of this in about two minutes.

  • Feb 18, 2010

    2.5: Sylvia Sidney is definitely what I would call a star. She simply lights up the screen. She and Frederic March are wonderul together here. And as is always the case with pictures like this, the supporting cast is stellar. It's a charming story with a title that absolutely fits. Even before the picture begins one has a pretty good idea of what tone it will take simply based on the title. After it has begun, the rest of it is simply filling in the blanks. There aren't really any surprises, but part of the comfort of films like this is their predictability. The fact that it was directed by a woman wasn't lost on me either. Not exactly common back then, although it isn't really common today either. The fact that the institution of marriage is poked fun at -- March forgets the ring so he has the preacher bless a beer bottle opener -- must have really pissed off the Legion of Decency crowd. The picture works right up until the conclusion, at which point the inevitably starts to seem slightly tiresome. A unpredictable and less typically Hollywood ending would have merited 3 stars.

    2.5: Sylvia Sidney is definitely what I would call a star. She simply lights up the screen. She and Frederic March are wonderul together here. And as is always the case with pictures like this, the supporting cast is stellar. It's a charming story with a title that absolutely fits. Even before the picture begins one has a pretty good idea of what tone it will take simply based on the title. After it has begun, the rest of it is simply filling in the blanks. There aren't really any surprises, but part of the comfort of films like this is their predictability. The fact that it was directed by a woman wasn't lost on me either. Not exactly common back then, although it isn't really common today either. The fact that the institution of marriage is poked fun at -- March forgets the ring so he has the preacher bless a beer bottle opener -- must have really pissed off the Legion of Decency crowd. The picture works right up until the conclusion, at which point the inevitably starts to seem slightly tiresome. A unpredictable and less typically Hollywood ending would have merited 3 stars.

  • Oct 11, 2009

    I definitely cared for my main characters, and I definitely wanted things to work out for them. I do wish I'd gotten to see a bit more of their marriage before they moved to New York, and I do wish I'd gotten to see Joan's interactions with more men before she married, but the movie was engaging and entertaining. I'll probably watch it again some day.

    I definitely cared for my main characters, and I definitely wanted things to work out for them. I do wish I'd gotten to see a bit more of their marriage before they moved to New York, and I do wish I'd gotten to see Joan's interactions with more men before she married, but the movie was engaging and entertaining. I'll probably watch it again some day.

  • Jul 10, 2009

    This is a great pre-code film. What saves it are the great performances from Fredrich March and Sylvia Sydney

    This is a great pre-code film. What saves it are the great performances from Fredrich March and Sylvia Sydney

  • Veronique K Super Reviewer
    Jun 13, 2009

    "marrily we go to hell" is a pre-code celebration of reckless brass toward hedonism as well as some possible suggestive content of marital promiscuity. sylvia sidney is still typecasted as the virtuous good girl who sticks to her beau even he may be a drunk wimp who cannot just make up his mind whom he truly loves, incurred with a very shakespearan issue "to be or not to be", absolute melodrama. besides that, you could take a peep at young gay cary grant who seductively tosses his champagne while leering the dame next to him. so sidney is enormously rich but well-behaved nice dame who's got attracted to a handsome alcoholic who has a strange sort of quibing cuteness to charm the lady of silks into the slave of love. so she's determined to love him and wed him even he's abscent in their engagement party, forgot to bring along his matrimony ring in the ceremony and mostly he still possesses a self-contradictory crush to a broadway prima donna of blonde hair. gorgeous sidney of brunette hair still tolerates that since her beau always says "you're the swellest dame i've ever met" without any assured announcement of L. O. V. E. later she descends along with him while he's hanging over the blonde on the other hand, so merrily they go to hell in booze and decadence despite our swell dame still looks helplessly chaste in decay. would good sydney win the man she deliriously loves? the best pleasure of pre-code movies is its indulgence of thorough melodrama without the moralistic hindrance for better light of doctrine. somehow sylvia sydney, whose mostly reputed work remained today is still hitchcock's "sabotage", shimmers in her adorable ingenune naivete whether it's pre-code or post-code, unlike norma sheer who conducts like man-hunting tramp before code but stingy mama after code. but i do harbor a private wish to see sylvia sydney act sluttish just like loretta young in pre-code "midnight mary" to gratify male audience's voyeuristic covet, but it ain't goody sydney. (lol.)

    "marrily we go to hell" is a pre-code celebration of reckless brass toward hedonism as well as some possible suggestive content of marital promiscuity. sylvia sidney is still typecasted as the virtuous good girl who sticks to her beau even he may be a drunk wimp who cannot just make up his mind whom he truly loves, incurred with a very shakespearan issue "to be or not to be", absolute melodrama. besides that, you could take a peep at young gay cary grant who seductively tosses his champagne while leering the dame next to him. so sidney is enormously rich but well-behaved nice dame who's got attracted to a handsome alcoholic who has a strange sort of quibing cuteness to charm the lady of silks into the slave of love. so she's determined to love him and wed him even he's abscent in their engagement party, forgot to bring along his matrimony ring in the ceremony and mostly he still possesses a self-contradictory crush to a broadway prima donna of blonde hair. gorgeous sidney of brunette hair still tolerates that since her beau always says "you're the swellest dame i've ever met" without any assured announcement of L. O. V. E. later she descends along with him while he's hanging over the blonde on the other hand, so merrily they go to hell in booze and decadence despite our swell dame still looks helplessly chaste in decay. would good sydney win the man she deliriously loves? the best pleasure of pre-code movies is its indulgence of thorough melodrama without the moralistic hindrance for better light of doctrine. somehow sylvia sydney, whose mostly reputed work remained today is still hitchcock's "sabotage", shimmers in her adorable ingenune naivete whether it's pre-code or post-code, unlike norma sheer who conducts like man-hunting tramp before code but stingy mama after code. but i do harbor a private wish to see sylvia sydney act sluttish just like loretta young in pre-code "midnight mary" to gratify male audience's voyeuristic covet, but it ain't goody sydney. (lol.)