A fascinating version of the Faust legend adapted from Stephen Vincent Benet's short story. Craig is the poor New Hampshire farmer in the 1840s driven to such straits that he swears he'd sell his soul for two cents, and up pops Mr Scratch (Huston in a wonderful personification of the devil of New England folklore). A rapid rise to fame and fortune follows, with Mr Scratch's handmaiden (the delightful Simon) temptingly on hand. Things get a little portentously patriotic when the seven years are up, Craig elects to have the famous orator/politican Daniel Webster (Arnold) defend him against Mr Scratch's claim for his soul, and Mr Scratch counters by summoning famous villains from history as judge and jury. But it all looks terrific, directed by Dieterle in his best expressionist mood, with superb sets (Van Nest Polglase), score (Bernard Herrmann), camerawork (the great Joe August), and a township that looks as if it came straight out of a Grant Wood painting. Daniel and the Devil is a cut version running 85 mins.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Dan Totheroh, Stephen Vincent Benet|