Hell-Bent Fer Heaven
Federal Theatre, La Cadena and Mt. Vernon, presents "Hell-bent fer heaven!" LCCN98517730.jpg
Poster for 1936 production
Written byHatcher Hughes
Date premieredJanuary 4, 1924
Place premieredKlaw Theatre
New York City, New York
Original languageEnglish
SettingThe Hunt family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Hell-Bent Fer Heaven is a melodrama play by Hatcher Hughes.


The play ran at the Klaw Theatre from January 4 to April 1924 and was produced by Marc Klaw. The cast featured George Abbott, Glenn Anders and Margaret Borough.[1] The play was staged by Augustin Duncan.[2]

It also helped launch the career of Clara Blandick, who later appeared as Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz.[3]

The play was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1923-1924.

Pulitzer Prize

The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1924.[4] The choice sparked controversy in literary circles and the media because the prize jury had actually selected George Kelly's The Show-Off, but was overruled by Columbia University, which was administering that year's Pulitzers. Hatcher Hughes was a Columbia professor.[5][6]


Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Kentucky, late one afternoon to 9 o'clock that evening during the summer. Rufe Pryor is a religious fanatic who works for the Hunts. Sid Hunt returns to the family home from the war. He has a girlfriend, Jude Lowry, who Rufe also is interested in. Rufe inspires old clan rivalry between the Hunts and the Lowrys, in an attempt to remove Sid from the picture. When Rufe's plans are discovered, the two families reconcile. (The play was billed as "A High Spirited Tale of the Blue Ridge.")



The play was made into the motion picture Hell-Bent for Heaven in 1926.[7]


  1. ^ "'Hell-Bent Fer Heaven' Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed December 21, 2015
  2. ^ Fischer, Heinz Dietrich and Fischer, Erika J. (ed.) "1924 Award" Drama/comedy Awards, 1917-1996: From Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams to Richard Rodgers and Edward Albee, Walter de Gruyter, 1998, ISBN 3598301820, p. 27-30
  3. ^ "The Tragedy Of Aunt Em" greatentertainersarchives.blogspot.com, January 30, 2011
  4. ^ "Pulitzer Prize for Drama" pulitzer.org, accessed December 21, 2015
  5. ^ Mordden, Ethan, All That Glittered, St. Martin's Press, 2007, pg. 101
  6. ^ Fischer, Heinz-D. "Development of the Pulitzer Drama Prize, p. 5" Chronicle of the Pulitzer Prizes for Drama: Discussions, Decisions and Documents, Walter de Gruyter, 2008, ISBN 3598441207
  7. ^ Hell-Bent Fer Heaven tcm.com, accessed December 21, 2015