Sign in to follow this  
MissGoddess

Movie Rambles

7,218 posts in this topic

> At the very least.. he knew how to out talk them, anyway! :-)

 

Judging from the movie, it was not just a matter of rhetorical resistance, but of Webster's ability to put together a well-reasoned argument that even that jury could not resist. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Webster wasn't going to let Medford rum or Mr. Scratch get in the way of his oratorical skills and his patriotism

 

In the right hands... determination can be a beautiful thing... :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> In the right hands... determination can be a beautiful thing...

 

In *The Devil and Daniel Webster*, it can be truly said that Webster embodied the best of American determination. Here he was, just a lowly lawyer, going against none other than the Devil himself.

 

And it is in times such as these, that we find ourselves living in, that one can only hope American determination will prevail, for it could be argued that we face a general adversity such as had not been seen in nearly 70 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=rohanaka wrote:}{quote}

> Webster wasn't going to let Medford rum or Mr. Scratch get in the way of his oratorical skills and his patriotism

>

> In the right hands... determination can be a beautiful thing... :-)

 

I know what you mean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*AND neither is... drum roll please...(Molo and Frank... this will hurt) Neither is BELLE.*

 

Yikes!!

 

Well thank goodness she made it into the screenplay. That was a worthy addition! :)

 

Message was edited by: molo14 (On second thought maybe "goodness" had nothing to do with it) ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One should indeed be happy about some things. Simone Simon might be one of them. And Medford Rum might be another. ;)

 

2h6rorr.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well thank goodness she made it into the screenplay. That was a worthy addition!

 

Believe it or not... I agree! (even in SPITE of the ga-ga effect she seems to have on some folks around here. ... (Ha) To borrow a phrase from the old "hair color" commercial... I won't "hate her" because she's beautiful... Ha. But it IS fun to hate her for being rotten!

 

And oh my golly, she was WAY too good at being rotten. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps one can hate Belle as a character (and everything the character represents) while still admiring the tres belle Simone Simon for being such a talented actress. Same goes for Walter Huston - hate the character, love the actor! :x

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello there Jabez Grey!! Ha.

 

Howdy, Ma Stone.

 

I wanted to comment on a couple of things with regard to Dieterle and some of

the stuff you said about the "German" aspect of all of this... whether or not he was

thinking of Hitler, I am not sure... But it WOULD make sense given the political

climate of the time and also the fact that this whole story has a lot of "american

patriotic" influences.

 

All I'm doing is making an assumption about Daniel Webster's speech to the "Jury of the

Damned" being one made to the American people. That's how I take it. These are my

opinions, nothing more.

 

Fritz Lang was a German director who would often take his shots at Hitler and he was

doing so around this time with Man Hunt and Hangmen Also Die!. I have

the feeling that many Germans in Hollywood wished to vent their anger and utter

disappointment over their Motherland falling in the hands of Hitler. This was very personal

to them. It was also important to their professional lives, too. I believe they felt compelled

to show their full support and love of their new home, America.

 

Steven Vincent Benet wrote the original story... (which I already knew that ) and he

also had a hand in the screenplay (which I also knew) but in between all that, he also

adapted the story into an "opera"... which I did not know until I got to "googling"

around. AND all of this whole writing process for him... from the time the story was

published in 1937, the opera in 1938, and the film in 1941 took place while Hitler

was a VERY prominent figure in world politics. So whether the line "Don't let this

country go to the devil" was influenced by Dieterle's background... or by S. V. Benet's

own American heritage.... it IS a message that folks seeing this film in that day and

age would very likely have associated with the times they were living in.

 

The film was conceived, realized, and premiered BEFORE Pearl Harbor. I'm not a history

buff, so maybe FXReyman can help us out with this, but I believe the popular opinion in

America was against our men joining the second World War. It was only after the

attack on Pearl Harbor that this country of ours joined in full. I believe Webster (Dieterle)

is making a plea towards the American public.

 

And I believe the message at the end of film could be why you, me, and Molo all seemed

to have a "disappointed" feeling about the climax of this film after our first viewing. The

ship changed course.

 

What I found the most shocking (because I just did not remember it at all) was that

the only three "characters" who have any real interaction in the original story at all

are Jabez, Daniel and Scratch... Mary is never given a name (and is only slightly

referred to as Mrs. Stone) Miser Stevens is already a "Moth" by the time you meet

him in the story. ALL of Daniel's speech to the jury is left out, and all you get is a

summary of what he says.. . NO dialogue.(in fact... a lot of the short story is just

summary of events... told in the third person.. NOT much dialogue) MA STONE is

NOT a character in the original story or even referred to at all. AND neither is... drum

roll please...(Molo and Frank... this will hurt) Neither is BELLE.

 

Bite your tongue! No Belle? There goes the film. :D

 

Excellent research! That was all very interesting.

 

 

Now I did see that Mary gets a name in the opera... but I have NO idea how big a

part of the story she is. And I also do not know if any of these missing characters

and added story line are a part of the opera either... but it is very interesting to

read the short story... and see how the possibility of all these characters COULD

have been in the author's mind as he was working it all out... it is almost like the

"short story" was just a rough draft and the movie filled in the rest of the blanks... But

I honestly do not know if that is true or not as I do not have ANY idea how big a part

he had in the screenwriting... and HOW much of a fill in was done on the missing

pieces when he wrote the opera. But at any rate, I think this was all pretty fun

looking into it... so thanks for humoring me while I rambled in the midst of the

ramble, there.

 

The adaptation of short stories is a great way for a screenwriter or director to create their

own story. It's the idea, the foundation of the short story they love. They then add their

own branches and leaves to make it theirs.

 

And again.. I say.. Mr. Grey.. good call on the patriotic angle of things... if it was

not an intentional thing.. on the director or the writer's part... I believe it was a nice

"side effect" given the time it was written and the things going on in the world.

 

Thank you.

 

This is Daniel Webster's closing argument to the "Jury of the Damned." Or is it William

Dieterle's closing argument to the American people?

 

Gentlemen of the jury, tonight it is my privilege to address a group of men I've long

been acquainted with in song and story, but men I had never hoped to see. My

worthy opponent, Mr. Scratch, called you Americans all. Mr. Scratch is right. You

were Americans all.

 

Oh, what a heritage you were born to share. Gentlemen of the jury, I envy you, for you

were present at the birth of a mighty union. It was given to you to hear those first cries

of pain and behold the shining babe, born of blood and tears.

 

You are called upon tonight to judge a man named Jabez Stone. What is his case? He's

accused of breach of contract. He made a deal to find a shortcut in his life, to get rich

quickly, the same kind of a deal all of you once made.

 

You, Benedict Arnold. I speak to you first because you are better known than the rest

of your colleagues here. What a different song yours could have been. A friend of

Washington and Lafayette, a soldier. General Arnold, you fought so gallantly for

the American cause till - let me see, what was the date? 1779. That date, burned

in your heart. The lure of gold made you betray that cause.

 

And you, Simon Girty, now known to all as "Renegade," a loathesome word. You also

took that other way. And you, Walter Butler. What would you give for another chance

to see the grasses grow in Cherry Valley without the stain of blood? I could go on and

on and name you all but there's no need of that. Why stir the wounds? I know they

pain enough. You were fooled like Jabez Stone, fooled and trapped in your desire to

rebel against your fate.

 

Gentlemen of the jury, it is the eternal right of every man to raise his fist against his

fate! But when he does, he's at crossroads. You took the wrong turn. So did Jabez

Stone. But he found it out in time. He's here tonight to save his soul.

 

Gentlemen of the jury, I ask you to give Jabez Stone another chance to walk upon this

earth, among the trees, the growing corn, and the smell of grasses in the Spring. What

would you all give for another chance to see those things you must all remember and

often long to touch again? For you were all men once. Clean American air was in

your lungs, and you breathed it deeply. For it was free and blew across an earth you

loved. These are common things I speak of. Small things, but they are good

things. Yet without your soul, they mean nothing. Without your soul, they sicken.

 

Mr. Scratch once told you that your soul meant nothing. And you believed him. And

you lost your freedom. Freedom isn't just a big word. It is the morning and the bread

and the risen sun! It was for freedom we came to these shores in boats and ships! It

was a long journey, a hard one and a bitter one!

 

Yes, there is sadness in being a man. But it is a proud thing, too. And out of the

suffering and the starvation and the wrong and the right, a new thing has

come: a free man. And when the whips of the oppressors are broken and their

names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be talking and walking under a free star.

 

Yes, we have planted freedom in this earth like wheat. And we have said to the

skies above us, "A man shall own his own soul." Now, here is this man. He is

your brother.

 

You were Americans all. You can't be on his (Mr. Scratch) side, the side of

the oppressor! Let Jabez Stone keep his soul, a soul which doesn't belong to him

alone but to his family, his son, and his country! Gentlemen of the jury, don't let this

country go to the devil! Free Jabez Stone. God bless the United States and the men

who made her free.

 

I'm of the belief that Dieterle was speaking to the American people. They are the jury.

I believe that it wasn't Jabez Stone who is on trial at the end, but Adolf Hitler. Jabez

represents our fellow man, our "brother," and Mr. Scratch represents Hitler, the

oppressor. Instead of blaming the Germans and Europeans who were fooled and

being fooled by Hitler, we, the American people should blame the oppressor for

fooling them. Don't let him fool you as they have been fooled, is the plea.

 

You will see the words "free" and "freedom" used a total of ten times in Webster's

powerful speech. It may not be America's cause but it's man's cause. For...

 

devilanddanielwebster37.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hola, Miss G! -- You are right, there. He does seem to acquire a growing

appetite for feeding his ego with the trappings of power and also for excitement, which

speaks to that "restlessness" I sensed in him from the start.

 

I, ummm, well, agree with you. Jabez is a restless man. You, Quiet Gal, and Molo

have made me see this. I'm not stubborn, am I?

 

Ironically, he becomes a small man the "bigger" his status grows.

 

Nicely said!

 

RANCID STODDARD! Excellent call! You know. for someone who hasn't

seen all that many old movies, you're very good at finding corellations between

them.

 

Wow! That's a very nice compliment. Thank you.

 

I never would have thought of Ranse, but it's true, they both lose their

way and become tripped up by hidden ambitions---ambitions I believe were

always within them, but being men who also had some good and noble

aspirations, they are very human. Very mixed. And complicated.

 

Now how did this happen? We actually agree on Ranse.

 

I still find Daniel Webster's few moments interacting directly with

old Scratch the most interesting in the whole film. It's a more even

match.

 

I also enjoyed the interactions of Webster and Scratch. I just love Walter

Huston's "Scratch." I need to watch Dodsworth.

 

And being a man with political power, Webster could just as easily be

tripped up as Jabez was, if he's not careful.

 

Precisely. Jabez and Webster are no different. They are human. A "dumb" man

and a "smart" man are equal, in this matter.

 

The Devil and Daniel Webster is one of your favorite films? Why? And where

would you rank it in your favorites?

 

Yup! I still haven't pieced together my favorite classic movie list beyond twenty.

The Devil and Daniel Webster is in the top fifty for me. Why? Molo hit on it

with his original post: German Expressionism.

 

The Devil and Daniel Webster is one of the Hollywood films that most

reminds me of German Expressionism, most especially, the films of F.W. Murnau.

As I mentioned, I get the sense of Sunrise and Faust (obvious) with

the film. I love the fantastical feel of The Devil and Daniel Webster. It's

surrealistic, ala Portrait of Jennie and Peter Ibbetson.

 

I also love the characters "Mr. Scratch" and "Belle" and the performances of Huston

and Simone Simon in those roles. Belle is such a lovely femme fatale, and that

connects with my film noir heart.

 

Edward Arnold reminds me of Emil Jannings, one of the best German actors of the

German Expressionism era. Ironically, Jannings played "Mephisto" in Murnau's

Faust, and his Tartuffe was basically a devil.

 

Bernard Herrmann is another reason why I greatly enjoy The Devil and Daniel Webster.

His score is one of the most unique I've heard. It's so wonderful to hear such brilliant music

match the mesmerizing visuals of German Expressionism. Now that's a beautiful marriage.

 

And, lastly, I like morality tales. German Expressionism was often this and I view film noir

as the same.

 

Would you care to dance?

 

theywereexpendable1-1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must confess, I continue to be intrigued by the notion of whether Webster's final speech to the jury may be construed as being a symbol of something altogether larger. For it is important to remember that Webster's main goal at this juncture is to keep the Devil from taking Jabez's soul - and his own. His line of reasoning seems to be that to keep "the country from going to the devil" they can start out by releasing Jabez from his obligation.

 

How were audiences in 1941, before Pearl Harbor, supposed to feel about this? Were they really expected to draw a parallel with the world situation? It is certainly possible. Since it is nearly impossible to find the opinions that audiences may have had at the time it was released, the next best thing is to gather those of the reviewers who first wrote about the film.

 

Here's what Bosley Crowther of the NYT had to say (opening paragraph only):

 

By BOSLEY CROWTHER

Published: October 17, 1941

 

Out of that charming folk story, "The Devil and Daniel Webster," by Stephen Vincent Benet, William Dieterle and a corps of associates have drawn their inspiration for a pleasantly provocative and slyly humorous film entitled "All That Money Can Buy," which went on view at the Music Hall yesterday. By all the signs and portents, it should be one of the best pictures of the year, for it has virtually everything in the way of cast and story that RKO could afford; it transcends the ordinary confines of the realistic film and climbs into the realm of free-thought fantasy, which should be most congenial to the screen. And it treats upon a theme of human destiny, which all of us are thinking about these days.

 

So based on this, it's certainly plausible to argue that some of the folks who watched the movie in 1941 may have been thinking about the larger theme of "human destiny", and possibly of the greater threat that the Axis nations posed to democracy everywhere. Maybe it wasn't only Hitler that Americans were concerned about, since obviously they had from time to time worried about possible attacks in the Pacific.

 

I personally wouldn't draw too close a parallel and say that Jebez is like the Americans and the Devil is like Hitler, because obviously the Americans had not "sold their soul" to fascism or Nazi Germany, nor were they likely to do so under any imaginable circumstances, before or after the war.

 

A more interesting piece about *The Devil and Daniel Webster* can be found in Time.com:

 

All That Money Can Buy (RKO Radio) is what the Devil (Walter Huston) offers Jabez Stone (James Craig) for his soul. Beset by an unaccountable run of hard luck, the young New Hampshire farmer makes the hard bargain. For seven years (the term of his contract) he prospers. When his time is up, he begs Daniel Webster, the great Yankee lawyer (Edward Arnold), to save him. Daniel does?and how!

 

This synthetic U.S. folk tale, a triumphant Yankee version of Faust, was invented by Poet Stephen Vincent Benet (in a short story, The Demi and Daniel Webster). A ticklish job for adaptation to the screen, it has been handled with skill and good humor by Producer-Director William Dieterle (The Story of Louis Pasteur). All That Money Can Buy is definitely superior cinema.

 

Never in the annals of U.S. jurisprudence has there been such a trial as the Devil v. Jabez Stone. Presiding judge is the renowned Justice Hathorne, who hanged the Salem witches. On the jury sit twelve famed American dastards?among them Traitor Benedict Arnold; Simon Girty, who helped the Indians burn white settlers. The court, straight from Hell, is packed in favor of the plaintiff.

 

But Daniel Webster had to trick the Devil into having any trial at all. Webster: "I never heard of you claiming American citizenship." Devil: ". . . Am I not spoken of, still, in every church in New England? . . ." Webster: "Then I stand on the Constitution! I demand a trial for my client!"

 

Before this prejudiced judge and jury, Webster begins to talk. He reminds the jurors that each made the same deal Jabez made. He tells them that an American can't enjoy a souless America. He appeals to their patriotism: "Clean American air was in your lungs, and you breathed it deeply for it was free. ... He concludes: "You are Americans all, you can't be on his side. . . . Gentlemen of the jury, don't let this country go to the Devil! . . ." The jury is won over.

 

Dieterle wisely lets Actor Arnold play Daniel Webster without trying to look like the great man. His Webster is not the violent Massachusetts statesman but a homely, gusty humanitarian. Jabez, his wife (Anne Shirley) and his mother (Jane Darwell) are first-rate as the kind of people who made New England "out of hard luck and codfish."

 

Walter Huston plays the Devil with demoniacal glee. Disguised as Mr. Scratch, a quizzical Yankee trader with a duck hunter's cap, bristly sideburns and stubble beard, he is a puckish tempter. Whether he is getting Daniel plastered, playing the bass drum in the village band, or spryly nibbling a carrot, he seems to be hugely enjoying his part. He is the kind of Devil most people would like to know.

 

Although Daniel bests him at the trial, it is Scratch who has the picture's last word. Perched on a rail fence, full of the peach pie which Ma Stone baked especially for the victorious orator, he thumbs jauntily through his address book for a fresh victim. And the person he picks makes any audience gasp.

 

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,851366,00.html

 

I find the *Time* review to be overall more appreciative of the movie, although in this particular case the writer obviously didn't see any strong parallels between the climactic trial and the state of world politics in 1941 (or at least didn't think they would be worth mentioning).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Listen sister, I don't dance."

 

:) I love how Donna Reed looks at him in that scene. I believe she's falling

in love with him there. He already fell for her just previous to this scene while

watching her in the operating room. Here, he's being so nasty because he

sees her cozying up with the other officer so he's jealous. They are all going

to a dance and he's angry. The whole time he's snarling and glaring she's

just staring at him and can't take her eyes off him, and asks him if he's coming

to dance. It's great!

 

TWE-60.jpg?t=1236693377

 

I love what the other nurse says to her:

TWE-58.jpg?t=1236693421

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello there, Mr. Webst..I mean Mr. Grey!!

 

All I'm doing is making an assumption about Daniel Webster's speech to the "Jury of the

Damned" being one made to the American people. That's how I take it. These are my

opinions, nothing more.

 

And you have raised some excellent points!! I think you have a good case presented... I really do see that even if it was not a blatant statement... it could have been one that was made in general given the time and the events going on in the world.

 

You will see the words "free" and "freedom" used a total of ten times in Webster's

powerful speech. It may not be America's cause but it's man's cause.

 

Though I am happily not on THAT jury... I will cast my vote for the defense... nicely said. :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love how Donna Reed looks at him in that scene.

 

April... I love the way that whole thing is done... and when he ends up GOING to the dance.. it is so "sweet"...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=rohanaka wrote:}{quote}

> I love how Donna Reed looks at him in that scene.

>

> April... I love the way that whole thing is done... and when he ends up GOING to the dance.. it is so "sweet"...

 

The look on her face when she sees him there says it all, too.

 

TWE-75.jpg?t=1236702443

 

TWE-76.jpg?t=1236702512

 

TWE-77.jpg?t=1236702550

 

I guess he does dance after all:

TWE-87.jpg?t=1236702597

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for the interruption everyone...pray continue with The Devil and Daniel Webster!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The look on her face when she sees him there says it all,

 

The whole romance angle in this film is such a nice turn... in some ways I wish the story had gone more in that direction but then it would have been a MUCH different movie.

 

The whole unresolved "did he ever find her again" thing is just so heartwrenching... it really does add to the emotion of the film. But it is also one of the most AGGRAVATING movie romance moments I can ever remember seeing in a long time... Ha! I wanted to throw something at the tv screen when it was all over and he still had not found her.... I was like.... WAIT... what about Donna Reed???? Ha.

 

Guess old Pappy just didn't bother to ask me MY opinion on that one... Ha. :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't wonder if there weren't loads of location romances. One day you're together and the next day you are shipped off and you never get to say goodbye. My assumption is he gets back to DC there is going to be a little visit to Personnel.

 

I thought it a good idea they let it go. More realistic to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has taken me some time to start catching up with some of the rambles here, but I must say that reading the text of Daniel Webster's speech to the jury really made my day. The freedoms to which he refers in *The Devil and Daniel Webster* are as important as ever, which is why I think the movie still works so well today. As always, we must do everything we can to keep the country from "going to the devil".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Chris....

 

I bet you are right about how folks likely were thrown together/pulled apart that way. I think I even mentioned something about that in an earlier ramble on this... but I have jabbered on and on about so MANYthings on here lately... It's hard for me to keep track! :D

 

And in all honesy, I have to admit the whole "romance unresolved" aspect "works" for the story as a whole...

 

But.....

 

I thought it a good idea they let it go. More realistic to me

 

Realistic-shmealistic!! Ha. I wanted them to find each other again! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only when I care about the characters...

 

Some love stories makes more sense if everyone just loves each other from afar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=rohanaka wrote:}{quote}

> Only when I care about the characters...

>

> Some love stories makes more sense if everyone just loves each other from afar.

 

Sometimes it makes for a more compelling movie, I agree. But such situations are also often very bittersweet. I don't want to take the discussion off-topic, but *The Umbrellas of Cherbourg* comes to mind.

 

Having said that, the important thing is that the ending seem true to the story. I don't like movies that feel like they have a tacked-on happy ending.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*I wanted them to find each other again!*

 

They find each other some thirty years later. She is widowed and has a daughter. He is divorced and has become a writer of sorts.....

 

Oh, wait. Been done. See "As Time Goes By" with Judy Dench and Geoffrey Palmer :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us