Laughter in Hell1933
Laughter in Hell is a 1933 American Pre-Code drama film directed by Edward L. Cahn and starring Pat O'Brien. The film's title was typical of the sensationalistic titles of many Pre-Code films. Adapted from the 1932 novel of the same name buy Jim Tully, the film was inspired in part by I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang and was part of a series of films depicting men in chain gangs following the success of that film. O'Brien plays a railroad engineer who kills his wife and her lover in a jealous rage and is sent to prison. The movie received a mixed review in The New York Times upon its release. Although long considered lost, the film was recently preserved and was screened at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood, CA in October 2012.
The dead man's brother ends up being the warden of the prison and subjects O'Brien's character to significant abuse. O'Brien and several other characters revolt, killing the warden and escaping from the prison. The film drew controversy for its lynching scene where several black men were hanged. Contrary to reports, only blacks were hung in this scene, though the actual executions occurred off-camera (we see instead reaction shots of the guards and other prisoners). The New Age (an African American weekly newspaper) film critic praised the scene for being courageous enough to depict the atrocities that were occurring in some southern states.
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