Shake Hands with the Devil (1959)

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In the 1920's Ireland, IRA members are being lead by the war mongering Dr. Sean Lenihan, as they fight oppressive British forces.



(novel), (adaptation) (as Marian Thompson) , 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Lenihan
Kerry O'Shea
Jennifer Curtis
Kitty Brady
The General
Lady Fitzhugh
Chris Noonan
Marianne Benet ...
Mary Madigan
Timmy McGrath
Harry Brogan ...
Tom Cassidy
First Sergeant 'Black & Tans'
Lewis Casson ...
Christopher Casson ...
John Cairney ...
Mike O'Callaghan
Harry H. Corbett ...
Clancy (as Harry Corbett)


In 1921 Dublin, the IRA battles the "Black & Tans," special British forces given to harsh measures. Irish-American medical student Kerry O'Shea hopes to stay aloof, but saving a wounded friend gets him outlawed, and inexorably drawn into the rebel organization...under his former professor Sean Lenihan, who has "shaken hands with the devil" and begun to think of fighting as an end in itself. Complications arise when Kerry falls for a beautiful English hostage, and the British offer a peace treaty that is not enough to satisfy Lenihan. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A story of love and hate...and the sudden sound of guns! See more »


Action | Drama | History


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Release Date:

24 June 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Händedruck des Teufels  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


'Kevin Flood', P.G. Stephens and Jack Cunningham were considered for parts See more »


Toward the end of the movie, Jimmy Cagney throws a hand grenade under the British armored car, but the subsequent explosion emanates from inside the vehicle on the upper side, while the undercarriage is completely unscathed. See more »


Featured in Irish Cinema: Ourselves Alone? (1995) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A fine film
8 December 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I first saw this film when I was 11, and even then I much admired it. Have seen it I don't know how many times since, and my original feelings re. this flick have only intensified.

First off, many contemporary folks, in and beyond the West, know far too little about the Irish "troubles." This film brings them home, establishing that despite atrocities on either side, neither held the moral high ground with absolute certainty.

Cagney is superb. His accent falters occasionally (although he was an Irish-American). But he nails every facet of his character, from the dedicated doctor and professor of medicine to the IRA commander who descends into fanaticism.

Most of the rest of the cast is excellent. Murray is a little, well, not quite at that level, but he still gives a respectable performance --

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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