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
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The blizzard consisted of 1200 lbs. of shredded white onions, 2500 lbs. of mothballs and a large amount of uncooked tapioca. See more »
Shortly after filming had begun, Thomas Mitchell fractured his skull and was replaced by 'Edward Arnold'. Not many scenes had been shot, none were re-shot, so Mitchell is still visible in some scenes. See more »
Why would someone who has thoroughly enjoyed movies such as "Judge Dredd" and "Wild at Heart" consider this to be "my favorite movie"?
One word - "fantasy". It's my favorite movie category, and this is the best one that I've ever seen. The 1940s was the decade in which horror melodramas and fantasies really began to ramp up, and this movie helped to set the standard. Stephen Vincent Benet's story is a bit changed, but not enough to diminish this American Gothic tale.
Aside from being superior entertainment, the movie simply has no weaknesses. Where to start? The casting and acting are extraordinary. Though both are most often remembered for other movies, Edward Arnold and Walter Huston turn in their best performances here. Simone Simon (known today for the "Cat People" movies) is exceptional as Belle. Anne Shirley, James Craig, and the stellar supporting cast are also great.
This is Bernard Herrmann's best film score. William Dieterle's direction is quirky and involving, propelling the film along at a fast clip. Admittably, the characters are caricatures, but Dieterle helps us to feel their trials and tribulations. The movie also features brilliant cinematography, exceptional production values, and truly superior editing (this was an early job for director Robert Wise). The scenes are quite stagey, but never disjointed - the logic of the story is unmistakable and riveting.
Huston is the ultimate "Mr. Scratch". I've seen this show many times, and it's a 10/10.
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