The Devil and Daniel Webster

Director: William Dieterle
Year Released: 1941
Rating: 2.0

Places Goethe's Faust narrative in New England, where a farmer sells his soul to the devil for prosperity but soon finds people turning against him and his greed. The farmer isn't a very bright fellow, and the move isn't really calculated on his part - in the beginning, he gives the gold away freely (and makes good use of it), but then the devil takes the deal a step further, and removes his 'conscience' as well (the farmer just goes along with this - he becomes 'possessed'). Might have been good had Dieterle avoided the heavy-handed warnings against turning away from church (vocalized by the farmer's crabby mother) and cornball faith in the "American Way" - we had one Capra, thank you very much. The ending smacks of god-fearing bogusness, and the devil is defeated - in spiritual court - by Daniel Webster, a good-natured drunkard, politician and lawyer. If evil can be so easily outwitted in the great beyond, I'm going to start on my new life of anonymous sex, acid dropping and bank robbing right now.