The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)

The Devil and Daniel Webster


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This classic fantasy was based on a story by Stephen Vincent Benet. Jabez Stone (James Craig) is a simple New England farmer who has been suffering from a long run of bad luck. One day he mutters that he'd sell his soul for a little money and a decent crop. Moments later, who should appear but The Evil One himself, Mr. Scratch (Walter Huston). Scratch offers Stone seven years of wealth and good fortune in exchange for his soul; Stone, assuming it's some sort of joke, agrees. Soon Stone's fields … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Stephen Vincent Benét, Dan Totheroh
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 30, 2003
Criterion Collection


as Daniel Webster

as Mr. Scratch

as Mary Stone

as Ma Stone

as Squire Slossum

as Miser Stevens

as Sheriff

as Daniel Stone

as Justice Hawthorne

as Tom Sharp

as Martin Van Aldrich

as Farmer

as Eli Higgins

as Van Brooks

as Lucy Slossum

as Servant

as Infant

as Tailor

as President

as Spectator

as Another Farmer

as Old Farmhand

as Clerk of Court

as Studio Gateman

as Studio Gateman
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Devil and Daniel Webster

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | February 23, 2012
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 28, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

This devil is fun, seductive, even, and he knows it-he's always immensely pleased with himself, and he doesn't need to pressure anyone to do business with him...

Full Review… | June 23, 2012

Juxtapose the name of a true-life nineteenth-century orator, attorney and senator with the Biblical personification of evil, and you capture something of the strange mix here of social realism and moralising mythology

Full Review… | February 27, 2009
Little White Lies

It's the heavy Teutonic Faust, but made American lite in this supernatural tale.

Full Review… | July 10, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Devil and Daniel Webster


A New Hampshire sodbuster is up against the ropes and feeling it when he makes an errant oath: "I'd sell my soul for two cents if I could!" Enter His Most Despicable Oneness (charmingly sleezy as rendered by Walter Huston) and trouble comes with him. Who can save the day? Very nearly post expressionist German in style and substance this creative fantasy has stood the test of time gracefully.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

Edward Arnold comes through again, this time as the legendary Daniel Webster, a lawyer and statesman who seemed more myth than man. Unfortunately, the bulk of the movie is about Jabez Stone, a simple farmer with a deep voice who likes to say "consarnit!" alot (and I do mean alot). Early in the movie, he makes a deal with the devil to become wealthy and have good fortune, and from that point on, we're shown the evils that money brings. Anne Shirley is the really beautiful actress playing his wife Mary, and Jane Darwell (Ma Joad from "the Grapes of Wrath") plays his loudly concerned mother. There's very little in the way of character development going on, outside of the typical 1940s hayseed dialogue (at one point, one of the characters cringe-inducingly says to another "that's mighty white of you"). Perhaps the only element with any sort of shocking undertone was the character "Belle" (as played by Simone Simon). As the devil's seductress, she basically kicks the wife out of the house and steals her son away. Jabez even builds a mansion just for her. Surely risque business for the 40s. It's not until the last 20 minutes that Daniel Webster and the devil actually duke it out, and it's a little anti-climactic at that. On the plus side, there's some outstanding direction and use of lense-smudging to create an eerie effect on the "jury of the damned". In spite of some corny cheesiness, it's still a worthy classic.

Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Well made film with powerful imagery that somehow sticks in your mind for days. Still holds up.

Anthony Valletta

Super Reviewer

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