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Edward Arnold, Walter Huston. A well-known lawyer takes on the devil in court-trying to win back his client's soul-in this thoroughly engaging fantasy. 1941/b&w/85 min/NR/fullscreen.
Stephen Vincent Benet's timeless 1937 short story gets the red-carpet treatment on Criterion's feature-packed DVD of The Devil & Daniel Webster. William Dieterle's inspired film remains the classic it always was, proving that Citizen Kane wasn't the only cinematic marvel to appear in 1941. It's a sturdy, stylish rendition of Benet's original narrative, beginning when a luckless farmer (James Craig) strikes a Faustian bargain with the devil incarnate Mr. Scratch (Walter Huston at his devious best), trading his soul for seven years of prosperity, during which he grows corrupted, despised, and regretful of his mistake. To Scratch's chagrin, legendary orator Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) intervenes with a triumphant defense, and Dieterle's brilliant direction gives the proceedings a light, economical touch of supernatural mischief.
To complement the cleverness of the film adaptation, this delightful DVD also includes a playfully expressive reading of Benet's original story by Alec Baldwin, and vintage radio performances of two of Benet's three "Daniel Webster" stories. The film and radio plays were scored by legendary composer Bernard Herrmann, whose Oscar®-winning film score is examined in an interactive essay by Herrmann expert Christopher Husted. Excerpts from an earlier preview version of the film (then titled Here Is a Man) reveal creepy, negative-image shock-shots of Mr. Scratch that were later removed, but they further demonstrate Dieterle's willingness to experiment. With additional essays and archival materials, Criterion's superb DVD shows how a great story can lend itself, with consistent success, to a variety of mediums. --Jeff ShannonSee all Editorial Reviews
I was in junior high when I first read Stephen Vincent Benet's THE DEVIL & DANIEL WEBSTER. It is one of a handful of stories that I have never forgotten. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Chip Kaufmann
The movie is based on the story of the same name by Steven Vincent Benet, and while I cannot claim that it depicts New Hampshire natives properly (I wouldn't know), it does... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Long Tom
This is a great older movie. Shows the power of a wife's love. Wonderful story of redemption. I think the transfer quality was OK considering how old this movie is. Read morePublished 4 months ago by imcatholic
One of the very best. A wonderful adaptation of the book. The scenes of how a farmer really lived in those days makes the movie even more fascinating. Read morePublished 5 months ago by William C. Ade Ttee
It was so cool. It shows just how the devil tempts us with money because we all just want to be rich but at what cost.Published 9 months ago by Judy Myers
Not the best quality, of course, but created in the 1920s and would be a great companion to an American Lit curriculum (Puritan or Gatsby!).Published 12 months ago by Tela