MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 2,610 this week

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
"All That Money Can Buy" (original title)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy  |  29 October 1941 (USA)
7.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 3,333 users  
Reviews: 51 user | 41 critic

A nineteenth-century New Hampshire farmer who makes a compact with Satan for economic success enlists Daniel Webster to extract him from his contract.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

ON DISC

Family Entertainment Guide

Check out IMDb's comprehensive Family Entertainment Guide for recommendations for movies and TV series for every age and every viewing platform.

Visit our Family Entertainment Guide

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 49 titles
created 16 Apr 2012
 
a list of 23 titles
created 13 May 2012
 
a list of 38 titles
created 10 Mar 2013
 
a list of 46 titles
created 8 months ago
 
a list of 46 titles
created 7 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Devil and Daniel Webster.

User Polls

Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A down-and-out writer sells his soul to the devil in exchange for fame and fortune.

Director: Alec Baldwin
Stars: Virl Andrick, Ray Aranha, Kaniel Arocho
Fantasy | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Boxer Joe Pendleton dies 50 years too soon due to a heavenly mistake, and is given a new life as a millionaire playboy.

Director: Alexander Hall
Stars: Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains, Evelyn Keyes
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A tycoon goes undercover to ferret out agitators at a department store, but gets involved in their lives instead.

Director: Sam Wood
Stars: Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn
Drama | Romance | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A mysterious girl inspires a struggling artist.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Ethel Barrymore
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Stopped in Mexico by U.S. Immigration, Georges Iscovescu hopes to get into the country by marrying a citizen.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Charles Boyer, Olivia de Havilland, Paulette Goddard
Brute Force (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Paul Muni, Gale Sondergaard, Joseph Schildkraut
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

True story of the doctor who considered it was not immoral to search for a drug that would cure syphillis.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Ruth Gordon, Otto Kruger
Dubrowsky (1959)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  
Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Rosanna Schiaffino, Paul Dahlke, John Forsythe
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Edna marries Texan Sam Gladney, operator of a wheat mill. Edna discovers by chance how the law treats children who are without parents and decides to do something about it. She opens a home... See full summary »

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Felix Bressart
49th Parallel (1941)
Drama | War | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A WW2 U-boat crew is stranded in northern Canada. To avoid internment, they must make their way to the border and get into the still-neutral USA.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier, Richard George
Meet John Doe (1941)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A man needing money agrees to impersonate a nonexistent person who said he'd be committing suicide as a protest, and a political movement begins.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Belle
...
...
Miser Stevens
...
Frank Conlan ...
Sheriff
Lindy Wade ...
Daniel Stone
George Cleveland ...
Cy Bibber
...
James Craig ...
Edit

Storyline

A down-on-his-luck farmer makes a deal with the devil for seven years of prosperity. When Mr. Scratch comes to collect, orator and hero of the common man Daniel Webster comes to the rescue. Written by Little Pine Weasel <kristinat@cerritos.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

STEPHEN VINCENT BENET'S Amazing Saturday Evening Post Story See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 October 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Certain Mr. Scratch  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The dressing room of Gene Lockhart adjoined the changing room of Simone Simon'. He reported hearing the 57-year-old Walter Huston making romantic overtures to the young actress. See more »

Goofs

Characters in this film set in pre-Civil War America routinely use the phrase "loan shark" despite the fact that it came into the English language between 1900 and 1905. See more »

Quotes

Ma Stone: Well, thank the Lord you can always depend on New England for weather. We've got enough for the whole United States.
See more »

Connections

References Faust (1926) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A Marvelous Film that Stands the Test of Time
8 October 2004 | by See all my reviews

William Dieterle's adaptation of Stephen Vincent Benet's The Devil and Daniel Webster is the product of a great, albeit brief, era of quality Hollywood film-making that has never been repeated. Released within a three-year period that yielded such classics as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Gunga Din, The Maltese Falcon, and Citizen Kane (just to name a few), The Devil and Daniel Webster is only now earning the accolades it deserves. The film is late to join the aforementioned classics because a definitive version of it has been elusive for nearly sixty years. For their 2003 DVD release of the title, The Criterion Collection finally discovered a complete print that had been in the director's possession. Now restored to its full length, and painstakingly restored, The Devil and Daniel Webster has never looked and sounded better.

A cautionary tale of greed and power, the narrative centers around the character of Jabez Stone (played by James Craig), a down-on-his-luck farmer who is barely able to support his family in 1840s New Hampshire. When the nefarious Mr. Scratch (Walter Houston) appears during a moment of weakness, Jabez agrees to sell his soul in exchange for seven years of good luck. Much to the dismay of his wife (Ann Shirley), mother (Jane Darwell), and beloved politician Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold), Jabez slips into a downward spiral as a result of his newfound wealth and power. When his seven years are up, Jabez learns the error of his ways and wants to make amends. To escape his contract with the devil, Jabez puts his fate in the hands of the almost mythic Daniel Webster, who represents him in a climactic barn room trial against Mr. Scratch and a jury of the damned.

The execution of this story is remarkable, from the elegant direction and incredible performances to the innovative camera work and stylish mise-en-scene. Dieterle infuses the film with stark contrast lighting and masterful compositions rich in detail and multiple layers of action. When Mr. Scratch appears in Jabez's barn, he is heavily backlit and accompanied by ethereal sounds. His accomplice, the creepy Belle, is similarly introduced beside a fireplace. To portray the film's more ghostly effects, including Belle's dance to the death with Miser Stevens and the barn room trial, Dieterle relies on multiple exposure and diffused lighting. These visual effects and others, such as items bursting into flame, were ahead of their time - as were the lighting schemes. Influenced as Citizen Kane was by German expressionist films, The Devil and Daniel Webster features bold, suggestive lighting where shadows alone often represent a character. Dieterle succeeds in creating a visual distinction between the real world and the netherworld by frequently bathing Scratch and Belle in soft light or diffusion and removing all natural sounds from the soundtrack when they appear. Belle's dance of death and Scratch's fiddle playing at Jabez's party are accompanied by severe under lighting, insinuating the hellish forces at work in both scenes. Every shot in the film, even in the mundane world, seems painstakingly planned and executed, with decisive lighting and many intricate camera movements, rare for this era of film-making.

The most remarkable performance in the film is Walter Houston's Mr. Scratch.

Houston, an Oscar-winner for his role in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, exudes unbridled glee with every devilish grin. His devil is a gentleman-like puppet master, a smooth talker, and very persuasive. He never flaunts his evil powers. He doesn't have to. His appeal is understandable because he can offer what everyone in the movie wants - wealth and power. It's easy for the Devil to sell his wares to struggling farmers, so he's confident and playful in his duties. Houston throws away one-liner after one-liner, owning the screen and stealing the show. At one point, he offers to help Daniel Webster win the presidential election. Webster replies, "I'd rather see you on the side of the opposition." As Webster walks away, Houston replies, "Oh, I'll be there, too," and sticks a cigar in his mouth.

To combat the devil, Dieterle cast Edward Arnold (who was actually recast when the original actor was injured during filming). Arnold had a tough job in the film, making believable not only Daniel Webster's mythic stature, but also his flowery rhetoric about patriotism and the goodness in all men. He admirably succeeds in not only persuading the jury of the damned, but in holding his own against Walter Houston in their many scenes together.

Everyone else in the cast is also excellent. James Craig pulls off Jabez Stone's fall from grace, and Ann Shirley is a believable virtuous wife. Jane Darwell, fresh off her Oscar-winning stint as Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, seems to be playing the same character in The Devil and Daniel Webster, but it serves the movie well. The most notable supporting player is Simone Simon, whose mesmerizing Belle haunts every frame in which she appears. It's easy to see why Jabez would fall under her spell, because we, as an audience, do as well.

The icing on the Devil's cake is Bernard Herrmann's Oscar-winning score, a dynamic one that works on many levels. Herrmann incorporates several traditional folk songs into his original music, including "Devil's Dream", "Springfield Mountain", and "Miss McLeod's Reel". For Mr. Scratch and Belle, Herrmann manipulated the sound of telephone wires "singing" in the wind to create an eerie, atonal sound for the netherworld. The film also provided Herrmann a wealth of other opportunities, including a square dance and two lullabies.

A good story makes a movie worth watching once. Exquisite aesthetics makes it worth watching many times. The Devil and Daniel Webster stands the test of time as an endearing narrative with lessons we have still to learn. It's masterful direction and style, fluid editing, and charming performances make it an accessible and entertaining film for any audience. Now restored and widely available, it is sure to join the ranks of those other great classics from the late '30s and early '40s - a scintillating example of good storytelling and fine craftsmanship.

  • Scott Schirmer



67 of 68 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Belle? Hottest Woman Ever BORN paul_is_taul
Which is Better...? theoriginalvc
the remake? justinjstanley
Editing of different versions. Dornford
Name change? DeanBitterman
Edward Arnold as a good guy? WingHaz
Discuss The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?