The Devil and Daniel Webster

Bomb Rating: 

Just a short plot summary so everyone understands what I'm jabbering on about: Jabez Stone (James Craig) is having a tough time as a farmer. First, he still lives with his fat mother, Ma Stone (Jane Darwell), his wife Mary (Anne Shirley) is a church-goer, so you know his sex life is in the toilet, and generally-speaking, the farming is pretty hard. Consequently, Jabez makes a deal with Mr. Scratch (Walter Huston), who's the Devil, of course, for seven years of good luck.

Frankly, I have no clue what this jackass, Jabez Stone, is complaining about when it comes time to pay for his seven years with his soul. He gets super-rich, builds a mansion, gets a hottie mistress (Simone Simon), and controls the entire town. Unfortunately, when it comes time to give the Devil his due, Jabez completely freaks. Maybe he just should have converted to Catholicism. Problem solved!

Jabez doesn't realize his mistake when he's being cruel to everybody he knows. He realizes his mistake when the fun times run out. Lucky for him, Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) shows up and orates Jabez's way right out of hell by challenging the Devil to a debate.

Let me tell you, if I were in that jury, I'd have sent Jabez straight to the burning fires and watched his ass roast up like a crispy Ballpark frank. The Devil is absolutely right when he argues that Jabez signed a contract and that the Devil upheld his end of the bargain. Webster's argument is pure rhetoric and has nothing to do with the law. Wrapped up in this little parable is a life lesson for the Bill McCartneys, the Kenneth Lays, and the George Bushes of the world: Hey, I'll screw around for however many years I want, fuck over as many people as I can, then when it comes time to pay the piper, I'll just claim I'm born again and God (or Daniel Webster) will save me. Hallelujah.

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