William Dieterle

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The Devil And Daniel Webster Review


Extraordinary
It's the 1840s, and times are tough for New Hampshire farmer Jabez Stone, just as they are for other New Englanders. He's a hard-working, God-fearing man, but he's prone to cursing ("consarn it" is his favorite), and he doesn't always find time to attend church on Sundays. He has a good wife (named Mary, of course) and a Bible-reading Ma, but when he can't make his mortgage payments, that just doesn't seem like enough. In Washington, a heroic Massachusetts senator named Daniel Webster is introducing legislation that will ease his plight. But in the meantime, what's a working man to do?

In this folklore New England, the devil is a real thing, like a fox that steals hens or a dog that barks at nights, and if you want to make a deal with him, it's not too hard to do. One rainy day Jabez curses in the barn, and a little man named Scratch (Walter Huston) appears out of nowhere with a bargain to make: Jabez will have seven years' worth of prosperity and everything that goes with it, and at the end of the seven years, Scratch will get his soul. Jabez signs the contract, and Scratch kicks at the floor of the barn, where a pile of gold rises up from a loose plank. The devil is in the details though, and anyone who's ever seen a movie knows there's going to be Hell to pay.

Continue reading: The Devil And Daniel Webster Review

Sex In Chains Review


Good
Sex in Chains doesn't deliver much of either, so if you're looking for kink in this historical oddity recently dug up from the archives of classic silent German cinema, you'll be disappointed. If, however, you'd like to take a trip back to the Weimar era to see what was on the minds of the filmmakers of the time (and to see some beautiful cars, by the way), you'll be fascinated. This is an elegant, urbane Germany, and it's creepy to visit today knowing that Hitler was hiding just around the corner.

Sex in Chains concerns itself with politics, but only in a roundabout way. Times are a bit tough for the young Sommers couple. Franz (William Dieterle) has been unemployed for a while, and his wife Helene (Mary Johnson) frets at home as he attempts to find any sort of decent job. He even signs on as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, and in one notable scene, he pitches to a wealthy young fraulein who feeds her cat gourmet food as she watches his demonstration. His look of disgust is memorable.

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William Dieterle

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There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.

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