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Devil's Disciple [VHS] (1959)

Burt Lancaster , Kirk Douglas , Alexander Mackendrick , Guy Hamilton  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Janette Scott, Eva Le Gallienne
  • Directors: Alexander Mackendrick, Guy Hamilton
  • Writers: George Bernard Shaw, John Dighton, Roland Kibbee
  • Producers: Harold Hecht, James Hill
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • VHS Release Date: September 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302605008
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,349 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil Gets His Own May 6, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This classy film mixes fact and fiction. Bernard Shaw's take on the American Revolution has all the smart touches that we associate with his plays with some scant reference to history thrown in. What makes this movie a hit are the three great actors who are all in their prime here. Laurence Oliver's John Bourgoyne (Gentlemanly Johnny) is simply brilliant. His acid wit makes for a most stunning portrait of this famed general. Shaw was probably inspired to write a play on this subject because Bourgoyne was something of an ametuer playwright himself in the 1770s. The film losely depicts his 1777 campaign from Canada to divide the northern colonies. The plan envisioned Bourgoyne's 9,000 (British, Hessian and Loyalists, with a few Indians) to combine with a drive up from New York under general Sir William Howe's main army. Berry St.Leger was to come down from Oswego with a smaller force. All three were to meet in Albany to divide and conquer the colonies.
Bourgoyne's plan, while elegant on paper did not reflect the logistical reality as far as 18th century armies were concerned. The events were to show that great miscalculations were made. The movie is based losely on the campaign. The towns and locales shown, as well as the characters of Lancaster and Douglas are purely fictional. But the clever plot and role reversal, plus the way these characters evolve in response to events illustrates how the Revolution must have seemed to many not directly involved in it.
The British were fighting a war for the hearts and minds of the Americans (sounds familar in Iraq now). The movie shows this quite well. While a little slow in the beginning, this short film quickly gains speed while its trio of lengendary actors unfold their magic on screen.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent cast and an excellent movie July 20, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
From the "poof" of the muskets to the attitudes of the common soldier this movies portrays, in my opinion well one little corner of the american revolution. Lancaster and Douglas as always make each other look great while Olivier and the supporting cast shine as they peel away layers of the human psyche.
As for the plot many people seem to make the mistake of thinking of this as a revolutionary war movie, that is a very simple conclusion. This movie isn't so much about the revolution as it is about people serving their own ends. The writing and dircecting makes its points with the help of all the characters. You'll use more gray matter than you expected on this picture, but it will be well used
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 18th Century, 50's Style July 6, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of my favorite movies. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas are in thier prime, both sexy and studley. If they really had ministers like Lancaster, I'd never miss church. The story, adapted from a play is a bit stagey, but it's very enjoyable. I liked the black and white photography as well. The best part of this picture is Lawrence Olivier as General Burgoyne. He is just so fantastic. He steals every scene he's in and the wordplay between him and Kirk Douglas is really entertaining.
Also the score is very good. It's a nice movie and I can remember seeing this in the movies with my grandmother when I was 8. It still brings back great memories.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kirk Douglas stars in a Shaw comedy April 17, 2010
Format:VHS Tape
"The Devil's Disciple" was the third of seven teamings of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, following "I Walk Alone" (1948) and "Gunfight at the OK Corral" (1957). The film co-stars Laurence Olivier. It was adapted from a George Bernard Shaw play first performed in 1897, but Shaw considered it an inferior piece of work and didn't allow it to be performed in the UK until a successful run in New York convinced him that it had popular appeal. In fact it was his first commercially successful play

Shaw was an Irishman (many people mistakenly believe he was English) and a giant of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He was the first person to receive the Nobel Prize for literature (1925). "The Devil's Disciple" was his 10th play and the only play set in the US. Shaw was a socialist and a prominent member of the Fabian Society (named after Roman General Quintus Fabius Maximus whose nickname was "the Delayer" for his strategy in defeating Hannibal). Amongst his many philosophical positions, he was opposed to revolutionary changes, so his play about the American Revolution can be understood in this light. This was his opportunity to tweak the noses of both the Americans and the English.

In 1959, both Lancaster and Douglas were at the peak of their popularity. Lancaster was nominated for an Oscar in 1953 for "From Here to Eternity" (1953) and would be nominated 3 more times and win for "Elmer Gantry" (1960). He was nominated for a Golden Globe 5 times, starting in 1956 ("The Rainmaker") and including "Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962) and "Atlantic City" (1980). Lancaster started in films at the age of 32 in "The Killers" (1946) and was an instant success.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great play, great cast March 15, 2012
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw this film as a child and I never outgrew it, in fact it gets better with time. The cast alone would make a poor film great, but combined with the genius of GB Shaw it is a classic for all time. The acting is great, the story profound, the film work outstanding. Simply an an enjoyable experience.
It is my favorite film.

One curiosity about the play; General Burgoyne is now thought to have been known as Gentlemanly Johnny. It may have been Shaw who cooked up the name rather than a historical fact.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars AMUSING!
This is a fun and kind of romantic view of the American Revolution. I love this film!!! A must see!!!
Published 7 months ago by WOLFIE
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute gem
This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and it's unfortunate that it is largely forgotten. George Bernard Shaw tried his hand at writing a melodrama — complete with a... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Pat Sarica
4.0 out of 5 stars Burt Lancaster-Kirk Douglas
Who could ask for more? George Bernard Shaw might be turning over in his grave at the changes they made to his play, but Laurence Olivier as General Cornwallis has some of the best... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Adele Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous, overlooked gem
"Devil's Disciple" is an exciting, witty surprise sporting two charismatic performances by Lancaster and Douglas, who's at his roguish best, and Laurence Olivier. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Henry Gondorff
5.0 out of 5 stars A forgotten gemn
This is such a GREAT movie! Mix Bernard Shaw's witty dialogues, Lawrence Olivier, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas...what could be better? Read more
Published 20 months ago by Bea Marquette
1.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood getting away with foolishness once again
Hollywood awful in my opinion. I did like to look at Burt Lancaster through the movie (: so that was an up for me. Read more
Published on July 6, 2010 by intanet
5.0 out of 5 stars The 18th Century, 50's Style
This is one of my favorite movies. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas are in thier prime, both sexy and studley. If they really had ministers like Lancaster, I'd never miss church. Read more
Published on July 6, 2004 by Deborah E. O'Connor
1.0 out of 5 stars What a load of Horse Sh**
I'm not a fan of G.B. Shaw (who was a blithering idiot in my book)and therefore I didn't have high expectations for this tripe. And I was right again. Read more
Published on June 15, 2004
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