Material for the screenplay is taken from Stephen Vincent Benet's short story, an O. Henry prize-winner, and the author had a hand in the film version with Dan Totheroh.
Material for the screenplay is taken from Stephen Vincent Benet’s short story, an O. Henry prize-winner, and the author had a hand in the film version with Dan Totheroh.The locale is New Hampshire, in 1840, a background of muddy roads, Currier & Ives farm settings, and peopled with struggling American peasantry. The legend is about the rise, fall and regeneration of a young farmer, Jabez Stone, who is alleged to have sold his soul to the devil for a pittance of gold and seven years of good luck. It’s a twist on the Faust theme, but Benet isn’t Goethe. James Craig plays the youth who discovers that crime doesn’t pay. He is a quite capable young actor, of pleasing appearance. Anne Shirley is the wife, who gets all the worst of it, and Jane Darwell is the rock-bound New England mother. Trouble for Dieterle (and the audience) starts when Walter Huston appears on the scene via double-exposure and whispers beguiling temptations into the ear of the young husband-farmer. That’s when gold coins appear from strange places and the boy pays off the mortgage. From there to the finish it’s mostly symbols and morality play. [Pic was previewed under the title Here Is a Man.] 1941: Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture. Nomination: Best Actor (Walter Huston)
The Devil and Daniel Webster
RKO. Director William Dieterle; Producer William Dieterle; Screenplay Dan Totheroh, Stephen Vincent Benet; Camera Joseph August; Editor Robert Wise; Music Bernard Herrmann; Art Director Van Nest Polglase
(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1941. Running time: 100 MIN.
Edward Arnold Walter Huston Jane Darwell Simone Simon Anne Shirley John Qualen