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Dante's Inferno
Directed by Harry Lachman
Produced by Sol M. Wurtzel
Written by Philip Klein
Starring Spencer Tracy
Claire Trevor
Rita Hayworth
Music by R.H. Bassett
Cinematography Rudolph Maté
Editing by Alfred DeGaetano
Studio Fox Film Corporation
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) July 31, 1935 (U.S)
Running time 88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $748,900 (estimate)

Dante's Inferno is a 1935 motion picture loosely based on Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy. It is primarily remembered for a 10-minute depiction of hell realised by director Harry Lachman, himself an established post-impressionist painter.


Plot summary

Jim Carter (Tracy) takes over a fairground show illustrating scenes from Dante. An inspector declares the fair unsafe but is bribed by Carter. There is a fatal disaster at the fair during which we see the vision of the Inferno. Carter establishes a new venture with an unsafe floating casino.



Rita Hayworth appears as a dancer under the credit Rita Cansino.

Cultural impact

The film uses a conventional story of greed and dishonesty to project an image of the Inferno conjured up in Dante's 14th century epic poem. Director Lachman had established a substantial reputation as a painter before embarking on a Hollywood career and he summoned his artistic vision to realise Dante's work in cinematographic form, drawing on the engravings of Gustave Doré.

The film's reputation pivots on the 10 minute vision of the Inferno and reception has been mixed. Leslie Halliwell described it as "one of the most unexpected, imaginative and striking pieces of cinema in Hollywood's history," while Variety held that it was, "a pushover for vigorous exploitation."


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