A morality tale for the ages, émigré Hollywood director William Dieterle’s The Devil and Daniel Webster (aka All That Money Can Buy) combines European expressionism with quintessential Americana. Based on a short story by celebrated author Stephen Vincent Benét, it offers a study in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, in which patriotism is cast in dramatic conflict with servitude to greed and materialism.
Echoing the German legend of Faust, down-on-his-luck farmer Jabez Stone (James Craig) makes an existential pact with the devil – seven years of prosperity in return for his soul. When the devil incarnate Mr. Scratch (Walter Huston) comes a-calling, Stone begins to have second thoughts, enlisting famed orator and folk hero Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) to fight what becomes, for each of them, a case of life and death.
The Devil and Daniel Webster was widely lauded on its release – Bernard Herrmann’s score won an Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture, while Huston was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role – and is still regarded as an American classic. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Dieterle’s film for the very first time on home video in the UK.