Dorothy Arzner

Merrily We Go to Hell

Merrily We Go to Hell

Addiction, nonmonogamy, and female sexual liberation: decades before such ideas were widely discussed, Dorothy Arzner, the only woman to work as a director in 1930s Hollywood, brought them to the screen with striking frankness, sophistication, and wit—a mature treatment that stands out even in the pre-Code era. Fredric March (in one of four collaborations with Arzner) and Sylvia Sidney turn in extraordinary performances as an urbane couple whose relationship is pushed to the breaking point by his alcoholism and wandering eye, leading them into an emotionally explosive experiment with an open marriage. Exposing the hypocrisies and petty cruelties simmering beneath the surface of high-society elegance, Merrily We Go to Hell is a scathing early-feminist commentary on modern marriage.

Film Info

  • United States
  • 1932
  • 83 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • English
  • Spine #1076

Special Features

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Dorothy Arzner: Longing for Women, a 1983 documentary by Katja Raganelli and Konrad Wickler
  • New video essay by film historian Cari Beauchamp
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Judith Mayne

    New cover by Sonia Kretschmar

Purchase Options

Released May 11, 2021

Special Features

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Dorothy Arzner: Longing for Women, a 1983 documentary by Katja Raganelli and Konrad Wickler
  • New video essay by film historian Cari Beauchamp
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Judith Mayne

    New cover by Sonia Kretschmar
Merrily We Go to Hell
Cast
Sylvia Sidney
Joan
Fredric March
Jerry
Adrianne Allen
Claire
Skeets Gallagher
Buck
George Irving
Prentice
Esther Howard
Vi
Florence Britton
Charlcie
Charles Coleman
Damery
Cary Grant
Charlie Baxter
Kent Taylor
Greg
Credits
Director
Dorothy Arzner
Screenplay by
Edwin Justus Mayer
Based on the novel I, Jerry, Take Thee, Joan by
Cleo Lucas
Cinematography
David Abel
Editor
Jane Loring

From The Current

Merrily We Go to Hell: Gingerbread, Cake, and Crème de Menthe
Merrily We Go to Hell: Gingerbread, Cake, and Crème de Menthe

Dorothy Arzner’s deeply cynical portrait of marriage exemplifies the director’s ambivalence toward the norms dictating female behavior, wielding ironic detachment to mask one woman’s simmering inner turmoil.

By Judith Mayne

Restoring Merrily We Go to Hell, One Warp at a Time
Restoring Merrily We Go to Hell, One Warp at a Time

A member of Criterion’s team of digital-restoration artists details how he tackled the biggest challenge he faced while working on Dorothy Arzner’s 1932 film.

By Eric Luszcz