Shake Hands With the Devil - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shake Hands With the Devil Reviews

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April 15, 2015
Period piece concerning Ireland's fight for independence which was slow-paced and sometimes hard to stay interested. However, I did enjoy the presentation of the freedom fighter view.
April 13, 2015
A perfect match with Michael Collins for an Irish troubles double feature with some impressive directorial flourish from Anderson and another captivating Cagney showcase. There is some beautiful sights in the film, especially around the lighthouse where much of the later action takes place. Anderson adds plenty of excitement to his shots, such as the POV interrogation scene where all we see is a hand slapping away at the camera. The script offers a pretty evenhanded examination of the Irish strife, establishing a tense police-state atmosphere courtesy of the Black & Tans but not forgetting to show the harsh code of silence on the rebel side. The scene where Kerry O'Shea watches an IRA man break down after shooting an informer prostitute is still quite wrenching to watch. Cagney always keeps you off balance with his performance, a master at the anti-hero especially with this part. You always get a sense of a zealous determination to his fight for the cause, but the film last half hour shows him going over the line when he is unaccepting of the Anglo-Irish treaty, as in fact many were at the time. The final tragic showdown atop the windswept hilly coast is a nail biter and Anderson delivers right to the final frame with a beautiful shot of Lenihan's pistol falling to the beach sands below. Keep an eagle-eye out for a very young Richard Harris and Doctor Who's original Time-Lord, William Hartnell.
August 18, 2013
Period piece concerning Ireland's fight for independence which was slow-paced and sometimes hard to stay interested. However, I did enjoy the presentation of the freedom fighter view.
August 4, 2013
The was always more to Cagney than the "dirty rat" from his gangster movies. A good well acted movie set in the Irish fight for independence.
Super Reviewer
½ March 17, 2012
Great acting by Cagney complimented with solid work from everyone else makes this compelling viewing. Besides showing how impassioned furor can go too far and twist good men's souls this is a tense study of a group of freedom fighters. Good use of locations and atmospheric filming add to the tone of this and make it well worth catching. One of Cagney's last films before his twenty year retirement.
½ March 26, 2011
Engaging and surprisingly overtly negative in its portrayal of both sides of the political battle for an independent Ireland. Cagney delivers a well rehearsed accent which stands up better than some of his modern day counterparts. Don't be fooled by the image here, this is filmed in glorious black and white and is a little lost gem depicting it's subject matter with strong performances and some rather nice cameo appearances. It was classed as Film Noir when I watched it although I think this is unfitting for this political thriller.
½ October 20, 2005
This James Cagney film (based in 1921 Dublin), is all about the IRA's battles with the hated "Black and Tans" (special police\military forces with little or no oversight). As you might imagine, the special police are playing havoc with the daily lives of Dubliners specifically (and the Irish in general), and our hero - Kerry O'Shea (Don Murray) - is an American studying medicine at Dublin... and whose professor just happens to be a high-ranking official of the IRA.

In a "paint-by-numbers" scenario, O'Shea's bestest college buddy is killed by British forces; although the friend is a staunch member of the IRA, the killing is an accident. O'Shea manages to drag his friend far enough away to enlist the help of his professor, Sean Lenihan (Cagney). As you might imagine, O'Shea now sees both the "injustice" of British occupation and the "noble resistance" of the Irish people.

What happens next is a long story, and an improbable one at that. O'Shea initially leaves Dublin with plans for fleeing the country now that the Brits are after him. But through it all he manages to fall in love and becomes "the stranger that changes history". Of course.

Look, I've got no issue with the Irish people or their beefs with the United Kingdom. But the only thing this film's plot needs to make it [i]even more stereotypical[/i] is for the Irish to wear white cowboy hats and for the Brits to wear black ones. It's that painfully obvious, folks. And once the film moves into the country, its one sweet Irish stereotype after another. When one of the older IRA members bursts into song at one point (whilst looking out over a moonlit harbor... while wearing a fisherman's cap and sweater and smoking a pipe, mind you) I almost expect him to end the song with "it's magically delicious"!

Two other minor points:

1) The film is and white. Ireland doesn't look good in black and white.
2) Dana Wynter is in the film; she always looks good!
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