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Devil's Disciple [VHS]

4.5 out of 5 stars 51 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: Burt Lancaster, 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302605008
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,304 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Vintage Drama, Action Movie with some of our biggest stars of all time.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Roger Kennedy VINE VOICE on 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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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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Format: Blu-ray
I’m not sure if George Bernard Shaw would have approved of this loose 1959 film adaptation of his 1897 stage play, THE DEVIL'S DISCIPLE. As an action comedy/melodrama, it moves along at a lively pace and is quite entertaining, but much of Shaw’s witty barbs are not anywhere to be found.

The film deals with the American Revolutionary War, but, ironically, was shot in England and, with the exception of its two American stars (Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas) boasts a totally British cast.

Lancaster plays Reverend Anthony Anderson, the staid clergyman of a small New England village, who eventually finds his true calling as a leader in the militia to drive out the British, while Douglas is Richard Dudgeon, the dashing rogue who turns “hero” in an attempt to save Anderson from the hangman. Both Burt and Kirk acquit themselves well, delivering performances not unlike those found in their earlier pairing, GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL.

Stealing the acting honors, not surprisingly, is Laurence Olivier, cast in the play’s juiciest role of General Burgoyne. His subtlety and low-key delivery allows him to command every scene in which he appears, in particular the trial of Douglas’ Richard Dudgeon character.

Harry Andrews, Janette Scott, Eva Le Gallienne, Basil Sydney and Mervyn Johns are also in the excellent cast, which was directed by Guy Hamilton.

Bottom line: The movie may not satisfy Shaw purists, but if you are a fan of Lancaster, Douglas and, especially, Laurence Olivier, you will enjoy this romp.

The Blu-ray from Kino Lorber has a sharp black-and-white image with good sound.

© Michael B. Druxman
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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 received 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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