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The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)

All That Money Can Buy (original title)
Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy | 17 October 1941 (USA)
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1:57 | Trailer

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

Director:

William Dieterle

Writers:

Stephen Vincent Benet (story "The Devil and Daniel Webster"), Dan Totheroh (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edward Arnold ... Daniel Webster
Walter Huston ... Mr. Scratch
Jane Darwell ... Ma Stone
Simone Simon ... Belle
Gene Lockhart ... Squire Slossum
John Qualen ... Miser Stevens
H.B. Warner ... Justice Hawthorne
Frank Conlan Frank Conlan ... Sheriff
Lindy Wade ... Daniel Stone
George Cleveland ... Cy Bibber
Anne Shirley ... Mary Stone
James Craig ... Jabez Stone
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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:

A GREAT MOTION PICTURE DARES TO BE DIFFERENT! (original print media ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 October 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Daniel and the Devil See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bernard Herrmann worked closely with sound recorder James G. Stewart to be sure the score and the sound effects meshed harmoniously. In some cases, Herrmann dictated how diagetic sounds (those that arose directly out of what was happening on screen) would be used. In the scene of Jabez's pursuit of Mary and Daniel on horseback, no hooves are heard, only the music. See more »

Goofs

When Webster falls asleep in the carriage in Cross Corners, the position of his hand and arm changes. See more »

Quotes

Jabez Stone: [about the hailstorm] Queer sort of weather we're having... queer like everything else.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: It' s a story they tell in the border country, where Massachusetts joins Vermont and New Hampshire. It happened, so they say, a long time ago. But it could happen anytime - anywhere - to anybody . . . .

Yes - it could happen to you. See more »

Alternate Versions

Over the years, this film was re-released more than once, partly because of its poor box office, and gradually cut down to 85 minutes. It remained in this form for many years, until it was recently restored to its full length. When this was done in the 1990s, it was unfortunately all too easy to tell which sections are restored... all the footage from the 85 minute version was in absolutely pristine, mint condition, while the long-lost, formerly missing footage has less than perfect sound and picture quality. However, the quality has been considerably improved on the DVD and on recent TV showings. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror IV (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wealth and prosperity, at the cost of your soul...
3 August 2006 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

This sadly underseen gem is based on a story by Stephen Vincent Benet, and excellently blends themes of fantasy and horror with the classic idea of money can't buy you everything. I don't know why this film isn't more widely seen, as it's at least as good as well renowned classics from the same era such as The Picture of Dorian Gray, and a lot of the films produced by Val Lewton. Any film featuring a character representing The Devil is bound to be more than a little camp, but director William Dieterle compliments this nicely with a distinct streak of humour running through the film, and this combined with a devilish performance from Walter Huston means that the film is a lot of fun to watch, and makes it's audience think at the same time. The story centres on Jabez Stone; a young farmer living with his God-fearing mother and strangely unambitious wife. He's also a man that is continually plagued by bad luck. His luck changes one day in the barn when he runs into Mr Scratch; a man that seduces him with gold and offers him the chance to become the richest man in America...at the cost of his soul. Thus begins a battle between Satan himself, and the saviour of the people; lawyer Daniel Webster.

The Devil and Daniel Webster benefits from a good, strong cast that put across the story in the most professional way possible. Walter Huston is superb, and he receives good feedback from Edward Arnold in the title role, Anne Shirley as the wife and Cat People's Simone Simon, who is intriguing as the 'nanny'. You might think that lead actor James Craig would be 'up to his neck in it' with so much talent available to take the focus away from him, but on the contrary; Craig more than holds his own against all of the supporting players, and this film certainly doesn't have any problems where acting is concerned. The story flows very well throughout; director William Dieterle does an excellent job of ensuring that the characters are always the principle element, which ensures that the film is always interesting. The moral lessons are well complimented by themes of what it is 'to be an American', and while I'm not American myself, the two bode well with one another. The ending is a classic example of memorable scene setting, as The Devil brings his jury in and the legal battle for the farmer's soul begins. Overall, this is an absolutely superb film and one that must become more seen. If you get the chance to see this; make sure you don't pass it up!


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