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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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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

Plot Keywords:

birth | bible | cow | crop | damnation | See All (112) »

Taglines:

STEPHEN VINCENT BENET'S Amazing Saturday Evening Post Story 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:

A Certain Mr. Scratch 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 said his favourite part of the score was the "Miser's Waltz," in which Belle dances Miser Stevens to death. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[Ma Stone is reading out loud from the book of Job]
Mary Stone: Give me the book, Ma. I'm going to read us something cheerful from the book of Ruth. That is, if you don't mind changing the lesson.
Ma Stone: Land sakes, I don't mind. I never did hold much with Job, even if he is scripture. Took on too much to suit me. Course I don't want to malign the man; but he always sounded to me like he come from Massachusetts.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Frasier: The Devil & Dr. Phil (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Devil Is No Match for an American Politician
29 April 2005 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

This film could never work now, because Americans are far too cynical to accept a politician beating the Devil in a battle of morals. Now the politician would be in the Devil's hip pocket. "The Devil and Daniel Webster" is a creepy, effective little morality tale about a farmer who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for prosperity and the politician who ends up defending him and winning it back.

What seemed startling in 1941 feels mostly creaky by today's standards, but there are still some fresh moments of film making in this one. William Dieterle was obviously open to experimentation when it comes to the use of cinematography and sound, and the movie has a striking visual look. The plot is mostly connect the dots, and there are no real surprises, but I don't know that one watches a morality tale for surprises in the first place.

Walter Huston is extremely creepy as the Devil (aka Mr. Scratch). He received a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his performance even though, based on sheer screen time, he really has more of a supporting role. But he's so effective when on screen that his presence dominates the film even when he's physically absent, which probably accounts for the lead nomination.

Edward Arnold is pretty good too as Daniel Webster. Also standing out is Jane Darwell (Ma Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath") as a hardened farm mother.

Parts of this film have a wicked sense of humour, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The trial at the end (with a literal jury of the damned), is especially amusing.

On a sidenote, the film was successful in capturing the 1941 Academy Award for Best Dramatic Score.

Don't expect to see any points made that haven't already been made a thousand times in a thousand other movies, but enjoy the originality of the film technique on display.

Grade: A-


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