No Exit (1962): Sartre’s Existential Play on Screening, Starring Viveca Lindfors as Lesbian (LGBTQ, Lesbian)

Tad Danielewski directed No Exit, (aka “Sinners Go to Hell”), a screen adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s famous play, starring Morgan Sterne, Viveca Lindfors and Rita Gam.

Set in a windowless hotel room, with a single entrance and no mirrors, the tale centers on a valet named Joseph Garcin (Morgan Sterne) and two women, Inès Serrano (Viveca Lindfors) and Estelle Rigault (Rita Gam).

Realizing that they are in hell, the trio expects to be tortured, but it doesn’t happen. While waiting, they discuss each other’s sins, desires, and memories.

Once a journalist, Jospeh was executed for cowardice and betrayal of the French Resistance. Estelle, a voracious sexual appetite, was a gold digger and seductress who killed a man. Meanwhile, the lesbian Inès abused her partner’s love and eventually killed them both in a murder-suicide.

As the story progresses, Estelle makes unreciprocated advances on Joseph, while Inès is tempted by Estelle. Eventually, they are left with only their own thoughts.

At the end, Garcin demands he be let out, and the door opens, but no one leaves. They resign themselves to their fate.

While the depiction of homosexuality is overt, Inès still represents a typical screen lesbian of the era, physically attractive and inherently evil.

At the 1962 Berlin Film Fest, Rita Gam and Viveca Lindfors shared the Silver Bear for Best Acting.

No Exit received limited release in the US by Zenith International on December 5, 1962.

Credits

Produced by Fernando Ayala and Héctor Olivera
Screenplay by George Tabori and Orson Welles (uncredited)