70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

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railroaded
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70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#1 Post by railroaded » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:52 am

The Devil and Daniel Webster

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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.video in the UK.

Special Features

- New high definition digital transfer of the director’s cut (the film was severely shorn following its original release)
- Optional SDH English subtitles for the hearing impaired
- Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Here Is A Man – preview version comparison [4:38]
- 60-page book with archival imagery; an essay by professor Tony Williams; an article by director William Dieterle; and a celebration of the film by author Stephen Vincent Benét, whose The Devil and Daniel Webster short story is reprinted in its entirety with the original woodcut illustrations by Harold Denison

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domino harvey
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#2 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:55 am

They should seriously try to get the Alec Baldwin remake included on Disc Two.

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Zazou dans le Metro
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#3 Post by Zazou dans le Metro » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:06 am

Well, yet another release that wasn't alluded to in the infernally intriguing awful teaser thread.
Hopefully this will herald some more Dieterle, particularly Midsummer's Night Dream and Hunchback (for which there are some available making of extras I think). A bonus riddled Portrait of Jennie would have been nice but there is already a bog standard R2 available.

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Finch
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#4 Post by Finch » Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:31 am

Dieterle in the Collection =D>

The announcement comes at the right time too just when I was contemplating buying the old CC disc but now it'll be MoC all the way.

edit: forgot to add: Nick, I take it this will be an October release?

Queiroz
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#5 Post by Queiroz » Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:23 am

I was JUST about to buy the Criterion. Nice addition to the collection. Well done.

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Finch
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#6 Post by Finch » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:49 am

Re further Dieterle additions: Hunchback would be fantastic and I'd gladly double-dip for that as I own Warner's old R1 (1999, I think) and would love to see some supplements or a booklet for this title. However, Nick did say their schedule was full until 2010 (not sure if it was 2010 inclusive) and whether Warner are willing to licence to MoC is quite another matter. FOX were happy to licence Nightmare Alley to them but Universal rejected requests for Make Way For Tomorrow.

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Zazou dans le Metro
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#7 Post by Zazou dans le Metro » Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:59 am

Looking at the cover artwork I'm thinking of how much Tom Waits reminds me of Huston in this. Since the former is in Edinburgh (where I'm seeing him twice next week) and I am sure that he has expressed a fondness for this film (Ikiru was another favourite from memory) How about a little Waitsian extra in the bonus department?

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domino harvey
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#8 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:15 pm

The Criterion is loaded with amazing extras, no matter how good this is, I doubt it'll replace the Criterion-- though it may very well supplement it nicely!

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Cinephrenic
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#9 Post by Cinephrenic » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:43 pm

Masters of Cinema should really focus on releasing films not on DVD or overlooked films.

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Finch
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#10 Post by Finch » Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:05 pm

Cinephrenic wrote:Masters of Cinema should really focus on releasing films not on DVD or overlooked films.
They are catering to that with releases like the Pialats and the 1928 L'Argent and have done so in the past with relatively or very obscure titles like Funeral Parade of Roses and Humanity & Paper Balloons. MoC's main market is the UK where there have been, to my knowledge, no releases of Dieterle's films at all so far. THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER may already be available via Criterion but even I, with my multi-region player, am still grateful to MoC that they release the film in Region 2 because, even with the weak dollar, a CC release is still more expensive than its MoC counterpart.

MoC's riskier choices always have to be offset by what they deem to be safe choices in terms of business: if the inclusion of Dieterle (i.e. classic American cinema) in the collection convinces Eureka to take risks in licencing lesser known films than Dieterle's, then so be it. What if including films that have already been released by CC or any other publisher elsewhere in the world actually still means good business for MoC like it did with Grey Gardens and F for Fake, and in turn makes it more likely that you get to see obscure and hitherto unreleased titles in the series?

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HerrSchreck
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#11 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Jul 19, 2008 12:43 am

Hhm. Interesting.

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MichaelB
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#12 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:15 am

Mr Finch wrote:MoC's main market is the UK where there have been, to my knowledge, no releases of Dieterle's films at all so far. THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER may already be available via Criterion but even I, with my multi-region player, am still grateful to MoC that they release the film in Region 2 because, even with the weak dollar, a CC release is still more expensive than its MoC counterpart.
And, believe it or not, there are still plenty of people out there who are highly knowledgeable film buffs but who restrict their purchases to what's actually available in the shops.

And while this might seem even harder to believe, there are film buffs out there who have DVD players but who barely know anything about the Internet - my ex-girlfriend being a classic example. (She made her first ever online purchase a few weeks ago, and even that was from a UK source - and she needed a lot of encouragement, as she was convinced that her credit card would be maxed out in seconds).

People round here - Web-savvy, prepared to shop around internationally - are a small minority when set against the market as a whole.
MoC's riskier choices always have to be offset by what they deem to be safe choices in terms of business: if the inclusion of Dieterle (i.e. classic American cinema) in the collection convinces Eureka to take risks in licencing lesser known films than Dieterle's, then so be it.
And if you don't like it, don't buy it! I've never understood this obsession with collecting every release by a single label, as opposed to an individual director or actor - I've got a lot of MoC, Second Run and BFI releases, but I'd be surprised if it's more than half the catalogue in each case, as there are plenty of titles that I'm simply not interested in (Second Run's gay stuff, all eight of the BFI's British Transport Films volumes, etc.).
What if including films that have already been released by CC or any other publisher elsewhere in the world actually still means good business for MoC like it did with Grey Gardens and F for Fake, and in turn makes it more likely that you get to see obscure and hitherto unreleased titles in the series?
The fact that F For Fake was a surprise bestseller completely vindicates the decision to release it. Profit categorically isn't (or shouldn't be) a dirty word in this business, since the bottom line is that you need a handful of releases to be profitable in order to subsidise the loss-makers.

I do sympathise with the idealists, because I used to be one myself - but I absolutely guarantee that if you actually spent time in this business in a job where your continued tenure depended on the success or otherwise of particular titles, you'd change your mind very very quickly! Obviously, it's vitally important not to forget the earlier idealism altogether, but pragmatism has to come out on top if you're to stay in business.

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#13 Post by Narshty » Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:14 pm

Besides which, yes, it has a Criterion version out already, but I strongly suspect this will hit the UK film market as a big rediscovery. It's never had any home video release in the UK before in any version and has virtually no reputation whatsoever despite being completely brilliant and the greatest piece of folksy Americana on film outside of John Ford (and he never ventured this far into fairytale land).

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blindside8zao
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#14 Post by blindside8zao » Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:16 pm

Why are you seeing Waits twice in a week? You get free tickets? I saw him in Knoxville a few weeks ago but there's no way I'd pay the 100 dollars it cost twice. The only way I'll ever see him again is if I can manage to get better seats for a lower price.

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Tommaso
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#15 Post by Tommaso » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:07 pm

Have just seen this news after being away from the forum for some days. Curiously, much as I'm normally against MoC duplicating CC releases and vice versa, in this case I think it's completely justified, not just for the reasons given above (even though region-locked film fans are still somewhat beyond me), but simply because Dieterle in general and this film in particular deserve much more attention.
Narshty wrote:It's never had any home video release in the UK before in any version and has virtually no reputation whatsoever despite being completely brilliant and the greatest piece of folksy Americana on film outside of John Ford (and he never ventured this far into fairytale land).
Exactly my sentiments. I actually watched "Daniel Webster" much earlier than the Ford films from the same period, and only now see how much they share, but also how different they are precisely because of the fairytale character (as opposed to the 'mythic' character of many Ford films). But that might be the reason for the film not getting its due praise: it cannot easily be put into any genre. If you're interested in the fantasy aspects, you might have a hard time at first understanding the necessity of the social aspects/criticism in the film (or the other way round);perhaps only repeated viewings make you fully realize the effortless interweaving of its somewhat contradictory aspects and the sheer poetry of it all.

So while I will surely not buy the film again (Like many here, I'm completely happy with the CC disc), I hope this MoC release helps to make this film, and Dieterle generally, more popular. I was almost shocked how little attention "Midsummernight's Dream" got in the forum when it was finally released - after what seemed like ages of waiting - on a top-notch disc by WB last year.

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#16 Post by L. Aspell » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:05 pm

While reading Thedor W. Adorno: One Last Genius by Detlev Claussen (in Rodney Livingstone's translation), I found, in a section entitled 'Fritz Lang, the American Friend', this interesting fact:

"Dieterle became the only film director to have an article published in Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, which was the American version of the renowned academic journal Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung. In 1941 he wrote about Hollywood's fear of losing the European market." (p. 166)

This article, if someone could track it down, sounds like it would make an excellent booklet item for a Dieterle release. It’s not about any film of his in particular, of course, but it would give a sense of him as an individual intelligence.

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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#17 Post by stephan73 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:22 am


CorstenoftheFunk
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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#18 Post by CorstenoftheFunk » Sun Dec 14, 2008 4:27 pm

Very nice looking but the lack of disc based extras (along with the Ichikawa releases) is disappointing and a rather worrying trend.

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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#19 Post by MichaelB » Sun Dec 14, 2008 5:27 pm

CorstenoftheFunk wrote:Very nice looking but the lack of disc based extras (along with the Ichikawa releases) is disappointing and a rather worrying trend.
I'd take a 60-page booklet over the vast majority of disc-based extras any day of the week.

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Cronenfly
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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#20 Post by Cronenfly » Sun Dec 14, 2008 6:59 pm

MichaelB wrote:
CorstenoftheFunk wrote:Very nice looking but the lack of disc based extras (along with the Ichikawa releases) is disappointing and a rather worrying trend.
I'd take a 60-page booklet over the vast majority of disc-based extras any day of the week.
Especially with Criterion taking the opposite tact as of late (minimal print supplements with on-disc extras the focus), I find MoC's print-centric extras somewaht refreshing. That said, in the case of Ichikawa there's already at least one good, wide-ranging print collection of writings on his work (James Quandt's Cinematheque Ontario Monograph), so I could see the desire for more on-disc supplements for those films vs. print materials. At least the Dieterle film is available as a stacked disc from Criterion, so one has an (admittedly rare) choice between disc-heavy and print-heavy extras packages.

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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#21 Post by CorstenoftheFunk » Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:26 pm

MichaelB wrote:
CorstenoftheFunk wrote:Very nice looking but the lack of disc based extras (along with the Ichikawa releases) is disappointing and a rather worrying trend.
I'd take a 60-page booklet over the vast majority of disc-based extras any day of the week.
The booklets are good (though a lot of the essays tend to disappear up their own arses and Eureka's explanation of OAR in the most recent booklets is hilarious in its over-reaching pomposity) but disc based supplements tend to be more accessible and cover more information in a much more economic way. That said neither should be neglected in favour of the other, certainly not with the premium cost of the discs for the consumer.

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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#22 Post by MichaelB » Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:55 pm

CorstenoftheFunk wrote:but disc based supplements tend to be more accessible

How can a disc-based extra be "more accessible" than a book, which you can consult at any time (even during the film if you're so minded), flick through in a matter of seconds to find what you're after, and read at your own pace?
and cover more information in a much more economic way.
Or, alternatively, cover less information in a more tedious and repetitive way. It depends entirely on the individual supplement, but since MoC's books are usually superb, they have a built-in advantage.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#23 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:39 pm

MichaelB wrote:
CorstenoftheFunk wrote:but disc based supplements tend to be more accessible

How can a disc-based extra be "more accessible" than a book, which you can consult at any time (even during the film if you're so minded), flick through in a matter of seconds to find what you're after, and read at your own pace?
.
I'm curious how many people walk around with their MoC & CC books in their knapsacks so they can access them anytime?

I think the poster's point was relatively obvious-- film is film, and to engage with deleted scenes, alternate takes, interviews, etc, one can sit back and relax and engage visually with this visual medium, rather than the purely textual writings & descriptions of a critic.

I'd guess that there are some people who like a mix of reading material and video stuff-- some people hate reading, that's no mystery, though I can't claim this myself. I hardly engage with extras, period. But there's nothing wrong with a good video piece, when you're dealing with film.

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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#24 Post by fiddlesticks » Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:02 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:I'm curious how many people walk around with their MoC & CC books in their knapsacks so they can access them anytime?
[raises hand]
I just read through the booklet from Valerie and Her Week of Wonders at halftime of a basketball game on Saturday.

I like some digital extras (particularly short films by the same director, or interesting pieces that shed light on the feature or its makers) and can do without others (particularly commentary tracks and trailers). I tend only to read booklets for films that really sweep me away, but in those cases, if the booklet is as good as many Criterions and most MoCs, I'll devour it, usually at a time and place removed from my home theatre.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 70 The Devil and Daniel Webster

#25 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:06 pm

I asked because, tempted as I am to do so too (for, like you, the films that really sweep me away) I'm too fetishistic over CC's & Moc's to carry that stuff around. I've been wanting to read The Furies, for example, but I just can't treat it like a Book book.

Don't know why.

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