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In watching this newly restored silent debut of George Arliss we learn that Arliss isn't really Old Scratch himself. Rather he's one of those many little messengers employed by the Prince of Darkness to deceive and trick human beings. We learn in The Devil that Satan is a most subtle creatures.
Arliss played this role on the Broadway stage during 1908-09 season with a cast of people I'm sure none of you know today. It's a play written by Ferenc Molnar and it's said it was a satire. Personally I didn't find any laughs in this one. In fact it's one highly moralistic Victorian era piece. If the central character hadn't been in the employ of the ultimate evil I think Cecil B. DeMille might have found this a very satisfactory morality play though we'd have got a lot more sex in the production.
The plot involves Arliss playing one Dr. Muller who plays havoc with the lives of two men and two women basically as an academic exercise. Although Arliss is good I really wish he had gotten around to doing a sound version of this like he did with some other classic stage roles of his. His voice would have been invaluable in creating a truly evil creature.
Still The Devil is a rather ancient curiosity, good, but hardly likely to be revived today.
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