The devil is going on in hell!

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German title The devil is going on in hell!
Original title Hellzapoppin '
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1941
length 84 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Henry C. Potter
script Nat Perrin ,
Warren Wilson
production Glenn Tryon ,
Alex Gottlieb
music Don Raye ,
Gene De Paul ,
Frank Skinner
camera Woody Bredell
cut Milton Carruth

The devil is going on in hell! is an American comedy film directed by Henry C. Potter from 1941. It is a turbulent film adaptation of the Broadway musical Hellzapoppin ' by comedian duo Olsen and Johnson . The film is very popular in the swing dance scene as it contains one of the oldest (and most rapid) film recordings of swing dance.


The focus is on puns, visual gags and bizarre nonsense. The plot is quite confused and above all provides the framework for everything that belongs in a Hollywood revue film of the 40s: romantic love songs, burlesque song numbers, dance and acrobatics, water ballet (Olive Hatch Water Ballet) and large dance scenes, including fast-paced music - and Lindy-Hop dance number by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers (as "Harlem Congeroo Dancers" with Frankie Manning ) and one with Martha Raye and Dean Collins . Furthermore, the duo Slim & Slam ( Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart ) and (unnamed) the trumpeter Rex Stewart will be involved.

In the opening sequence, every logic is resolved by a dialogue between film and “reality” in the projection room of a cinema. Everything begins as a film in the film, but it turns out to be a film recording. The filming is stopped because the director is dissatisfied with the script, he wants a love story. So Ole, Chic and the director go through various sets (one alludes to Citizen Kane by Orson Welles ) to the young screenwriter Harry Selby.

The director explains the new story: "It's a film about a film about a Broadway play" and shows it in a film excerpt. The story begins in a mansion on Long Island. A revue is to be performed there at a charity festival. Jeff Hunter is the writer, director and set painter. Kitty Rand, the millionaire's daughter, wants to fulfill her dream as an actress in it. Kitty and Jeff are in an unspoken love, but her parents want Kitty to marry Woody Taylor, Jeff's best friend. Jeff therefore wants to do without Kitty.

Ole and Chic help as prop masters to get the revue off the ground. To help their friend Jeff with Kitty, they decide to make Kitty bad in front of Woody. Woody believes Kitty and Pepi are having a relationship and wants to give up on Kitty. But when Woody tells Ole and Chic what he has observed, they believe they also have to "protect" Jeff from Kitty by sabotaging the review. This turns the rather boring revue into a great laughing hit, and the Broadway producer who has traveled especially to buy the revue.

The film ends again in the film studio, where Ole, Chic and the director are horrified by the new script. Harry Selby defends himself: "I've seen something like this in the cinema and I laughed a lot about it".


The musical Hellzapoppin ran on Broadway from September 22, 1938 to December 17, 1941 and was one of the most successful productions of the time with 1,404 performances. The book came from Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson and was continuously updated with current references. Music and lyrics were provided by Sammy Fain and Charles Tobias .

The song Pig Foot Pete by Gene De Paul (music) and Don Raye (text) was in 1943 for the Oscar in the category " Best Song nominee" while Hellzapoppin assigned. In truth, it didn't appear there, but came from the Abbott and Costello film Keep 'Em Flying (1941).


In Hell the Devil is Going was greeted with mostly positive reviews. The Heyne Film Lexicon wrote in 1969: “… Optical and linguistic gags, lots of puns. A bomb for friends of higher nonsense. ”The Protestant film observer was less enthusiastic:“ Parody of the attempt to parody a Broadway hit with a film. Entertaining for those who occasionally want to see nothing more than a laugh bomb. ” Cinema wrote that it was a“ fast-paced, silly film-within-a-film ”:“ This parodic cinematic turbulence is a kind of Kentucky Fried Movie of the 1940s - with a lively ' Lindy Hop ' insert that makes today's dance film look very old. "

DVD publications

  • 2007 in Great Britain at SECOND SIGHT, order number: 2NDVD3113
  • 2009 in Germany at Ufa

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for In hell the devil is loose! Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , April 2008 (PDF; test number: 20 167 DVD).
  2. In hell the devil is loose. In: Retrieved April 19, 2020 .
  3. ^ Heyne Filmlexikon , Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, Munich 1969, p. 397
  4. Evangelischer Presseverband München, Review No. 298/1960
  5. In Hell, the devil is going on at Cinema