Watch The Devil and Daniel Webster
- 1 hr 47 min
The Devil and Daniel Webster is a 1941 film adaptation of a short story by Stephen Vincent BenÃ©t. It is a supernatural drama that follows the story of a New Hampshire farmer named Jabez Stone (played by James Craig), who is struggling to make ends meet during the Great Depression. One day, he makes a deal with the devil (played by Walter Huston) to become wealthy and successful but later regrets it as the devil demands his soul.
The film is set during the 1840s, and the story unfolds in rural New Hampshire. The movie's opening sequence shows the countryside, and we hear a narrator introducing the setting and explaining that this was an era in which America was in the early stages of industrialization.
In the movie, Jabez Stone is a desperate farmhand who is tired of living in poverty. He is willing to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for seven years of wealth and good fortune. However, his luck starts to run out, and he realizes the magnitude of his mistake when the devil comes to collect his due.
As Jabez Stone struggles to find a way out of the contract, he turns to the great orator and lawyer Daniel Webster (played by Edward Arnold) to help him. Webster is a real-life historical figure who was known for his exceptional rhetorical skills, and he agrees to take on Jabez's case.
The climax of the story occurs when Webster is brought before a jury of the dead, in which the devil acts as the prosecution and Webster acts as the defense. In this scene, the devil cites every moral flaw of Webster, attempting to sway the jury in his favor. However, Webster's eloquence and logic ultimately win the day, and he saves Jabez's soul from a lifetime of eternal damnation.
The movie's central characters, Jabez Stone, the devil and Daniel Webster, all provide depth and intrigue. James Craig portrays Jabez Stone with an appealing desperation that helps audiences understand his motivations for making the devilish bargain. The devil played by Walter Huston is all too convincing in his portrayal, making it easy to believe that he is a supernatural being without any moral compass. Finally, Edward Arnold plays his role as Daniel Webster with charm and confidence, making his character feel as though he was genuinely the greatest lawyer of his time.
One of the more captivating aspects of this film is its use of sound design. The eerie soundscape helps convey the horror and supernatural subject matter of the story. The film also features a hauntingly beautiful orchestral score by Bernard Herrmann that compliments the film's themes and mood.
The Devil and Daniel Webster's overall message is the importance of standing up to oppression and fighting for what is right. Jabez Stone represents the struggles of everyday Americans who turn to drastic measures in desperate times. Webster represents the spirit of America, fighting for what is ethical and just despite seemingly insurmountable odds. This movie's historical period and supernatural subject matter lend much to the story's themes, creating a stirring and engaging film.
In conclusion, The Devil and Daniel Webster is a supernatural drama that features an exceptional cast, stunning sound design, and beautiful orchestral music. The film's themes of desperation, greed, and redemption will resonate with viewers long after the movie ends.
The Devil and Daniel Webster is a 1941 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 47 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6.