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The Devil's Disciple (1959)

Approved | | Comedy, History, Romance | 20 August 1959 (USA)
The black sheep of a family and the local minister discover their true vocations during the Revolutionary War.


Guy Hamilton, Alexander Mackendrick (uncredited)


John Dighton (screenplay), Roland Kibbee (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Lancaster ... The Rev. Anthony Anderson
Kirk Douglas ... Richard Dudgeon
Laurence Olivier ... Gen. Burgoyne
Janette Scott ... Judith Anderson
Eva Le Gallienne ... Mrs. Dudgeon
Harry Andrews ... Maj. Swindon
Basil Sydney ... Lawyer Hawkins
George Rose ... British Sergeant
Neil McCallum Neil McCallum ... Christie Dudgeon (as Neil Mc Callum)
Mervyn Johns ... Rev. Maindeck Parshotter
David Horne ... Uncle William
Erik Chitty ... Uncle Titus
Allan Cuthbertson ... British Lieutenant
Percy Herbert ... Edict Sergeant
Phyllis Morris Phyllis Morris ... Wife of Titus


In a small New England town during the American War of Independence, Dick Dudgeon, a revolutionary American Puritan, is mistaken for local minister Rev. Anthony Anderson and arrested by the British. Dick discovers himself incapable of accusing another human to suffer and continues to masquerade as the reverend. The minister's wife, Judith, is moved by Dick's actions and mistakenly interprets them as an expression of love for her. In spite of his protestations she finds herself romantically attracted to him. Brought before British commander General Burgoyne, Dudgeon displays his willingness to die for his principles. At the last minute Dick is saved from ministerial pursuits to become a revolutionary leader. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One devil of a motion picture !


Comedy | History | Romance | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Montgomery Clift was approached about playing Dick Dudgeon. See more »


Dudgeon crosses the ankles of his father's body. In a subsequent shot, the ankles are seen uncrossed and then crossed again as Dudgeon leaves. See more »


Narrator: Give a Major Swindon enough rope, and he'll always hang somebody.
See more »


Remake of The Devil's Disciple (1955) See more »


Yankee Doodle
traditional 18th Century Anglo-American folk song
Heard under main title
See more »

User Reviews

Olivier Flat in "Devil's Disciple"?
15 November 2014 | by rick_lapinSee all my reviews

This is in answer to otter_c, who wrote: "The only disappointment is Laurence Olivier as General Burgoyne. Olivier castigated himself in his autobiography for botching one of Shaw's most hilarious roles, his personal griefs were overwhelming him at the time. He's nervous and unfocused, line after wonderful line falls flat. (He returned to form shortly after in "Spartacus" and "The Entertainer")"

All due respect to both you and Sir Lawrence, but I think this is an instance where his self-appraisal is a little off-target.

I've always enjoyed this performance as a very excellent portrait of a thinking man and wit under a great deal of pressure, with no idea that Olivier did not care for it -- thing is, Burgoyne IS distracted; he has more important fish to fry than this petty punitive hanging, and even before he gets the news about Howe he is deeply concerned for the continued viability of his command: He tosses off his bon mots as the after-thoughts of the kind of intellect who could actually write plays when he wasn't under siege in an unpopular war in unfriendly country.

And I find that makes them and Burgoyne funnier than, say, Ian Richardson's total self- awareness in the '87 BBC production.

Olivier liked to be In Control when he worked; and in some of the roles in which I do not much care for him I feel it makes him artificial and excessively mannered. So naturally, a performance given when he was overwhelmed with grief is gonna rankle the perfectionist in him; but since he was preoccupied with other, more important (to him) matters it put him willy-nilly square in the same frame of mind as I gauge Gentlemanly Johnny to have been in as disaster loomed, I feel it really helps make the performance live in a way the studied Olivier technique might not have come within yards of.

The two men -- the actor and the general he portrays -- are up against it, but instinct pulls each through even if more distractedly than if under less severe constraints; there is still enough of the essence of each to make a credible showing.

The artist is not always the best critic of his own work; and Olivier's General Burgoyne is excellent work whether the actor knew what he was doing or not.

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Release Date:

20 August 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El disc√≠pulo del diablo See more »


Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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