Archive for December 7th, 2008


by Allan Fish

(USA 1941 106m) DVD1

Aka. The Devil and Daniel Webster/Daniel and the Devil

The name I go by in New England

p  Charles L.Glett  d  William Dieterle  w  Dan Totheroh, Stephen Vincent Benet  story  “The Devil and Daniel Webster” by Stephen Vincent Benet  ph  Joseph H.August  ed  Robert Wise  m  Bernard Herrmann  art  Van Nest Polglase  spc  Vernon L.Walker

Walter Huston (Mr Scratch – the devil), Edward Arnold (Daniel Webster), James Craig (Jabez Stone), Anne Shirley (Mary Stone), Simone Simon (Belle), Jane Darwell (Ma Stone), Gene Lockhart (Squire Slossum), John Qualen (Miser Stevens), H.B Warner (Judge Hathorne), Frank Conlan (Sheriff), Lindy Wade (Daniel Stone), Geo Cleveland (Cy Bibber), Robert Dudley,

William Dieterle’s take on Faust has been on quite a journey in terms of its critical approval.  Long regarded a masterpiece of not only cinematic expression, but of Expressionism, it was cut to 85m for its reissues and it wasn’t until the DVD release in 2003, which digitally restored the ailing longer print, that it could be properly evaluated. 

            Dieterle was one of the most prestigious directors in Hollywood in 1941 courtesy of such suitably opulent biopics at Warners as The Story of Louis Pasteur, The Life of Emile Zola, Juarez and Dr Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, as well as the visual opulence of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  With all due respect to their merits, they date very badly today, and it is for his version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1939 that most of his critical approval now derives.  That film is covered elsewhere, and though many have a soft spot for that piece of supreme romantic Selznickian tosh Portrait of Jennie (also covered elsewhere), it is this 1941 adaptation of Stephen Benet’s Faustian tale that is his visual masterpiece. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Denmark 1946 105m) DVD2 (Denmark only, no Eng subs)

Aka. Ditte, Child of Man

History repeats itself

p  uncredited  d/w  Bjarne Henning-Jansen, Astrid Henning-Jansen  novel  Martin Andersen Nexo  ph  Werner Jenssen  ed  Edla Hansen  m  Herman Koppel  art  Kai Rasch  cos  Inge Bjarne

Tove Maés (Ditte), Karen Poulsen (Grandmother Maren), Maria Garland (Husmor), Preben Neergaard (Karl), Rasmus Ottesen (Grandfather Soren), Jette Kehlet (young Ditte), Karen Lykkehus (Sorine), Ebbe Rode (Johannes), Edvin Tiemroth (Lars Peter),

Name a classic 1946 film that begins with a view of the cosmos?  A Matter of Life and Death, I hear you say.  Correct, but I’m thinking of another.  It’s a Wonderful Life, then, you might offer.  Again correct, but I’m still fixed on another film entirely and the film in question is probably one of the least known in this eclectic list whose very greatness seems to have almost passed us by.  So much so that if I was to ask another question, namely which classic Danish film was based on a novel by Martin Anderson Nexo, you would almost certainly answer Pelle the Conqueror.  Yet Ditte Menneskebarn is also one of his best works, the 1946 Henning-Jansen film equally esteemed in its homeland.  Yet just you try and find it in film guides, where only the Halliwell gives it a cursory mention. (more…)

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