film: Dieterle: The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941).

devildaniel4The Devil and Daniel Webster reminded me of Carol Reed’s cinematography–noir in very bright, open spaces, gothic proportions in the meanest of hovels, and the difference between good and evil is thus made clear in imagery alone, and from traditional, well-lit shots of smiling families, the picture blurs, the camera angles are strange, everything is straight lines and shadeless, black and white. Horrifying, but delightful, not only in the ingenuity of the hero, but in how little we are asked to fear for the characters’ souls. This isn’t a film about morals, nor about the devil and one’s soul–not having made the devil so glamorous and calm, not having exposed no seething underbelly to a life of extravagance, not ultimately winning back the souls from hell by the use of reason, not religiosity. It’s a good story, that’s what it is.

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