A Biograph Portrayal of Psychic Force
The Devil (1908)
“There’s the Devil to pay.” Don’t worry, the Devil is a good collector, and never misses discounts. In the ever-existent psychomachy in the human being, Satan attacks the weaker side, the flesh, and has in most cases an easy task in overthrowing the soul. In this picture we have attempted to show in the material that conflict by personifying that which is evil and sinister in our natures by figure of the traditional Satan; hence, in this subject, the Devil is intended to illustrate psychic force. Herold Thornton, a successful artist, is so deeply in love with his wife that apparently no power natural or supernatural, could swerve him from the path of honor. But, alas! he is human, and in his employ is a very beautiful girl as model. This girl has loved her employer with a suppressed, hopeless passion, which needed but a breath to fan it into a blaze. In justice to her, it must be said that she didn’t realize the strength of this feeling, smothering it with admiration for the artist’s devotion for his wife. Ah, but the Devil knows how to play the game, and his promptings are fascinatingly impressive that few can resist. But who is the Devil? He is the embodiment at our evil inclination warring with the pure. So it was that at his prompting the artist falls, as does his model. They are discovered by the wife, who in turn is prompted by the Devil to “get even”, which she heeds. She is surprised by her husband in a private dining-room of a cafe in company with a gentleman friend. In frenzy he leaps at his wife’s throat - and the Devil laughs. He would have sent her to im then and there, but for the intervention of the waiters. In terror, the poor woman rushes to her home. She is followed by the crazed husband. In vain she pleads, but the Devil prompts: “Kill”. Taking a revolver from the dresser-drawer he moves deliberately toward the terrified wife - and the Devil laughed. A shot and a body and soul part; snother sot, and - “There was the Devil to pay” - and he collected. The subject, while thrilling, is most ingeniously handled with photographic quality of the highest order, showing a stereoscopic effect never before attained.
Source: Biograph Bulletin, Number 175, 2 October 1908
The film is based on the play "Az ördög; vigjátek három felvon" (The Devil) by Ferenc Molnár. The same year, another film was produced based on the same play, with the same name, but by Edison Manufacturing Company. There exists one survival copy in the Paper Print Collection held by the Library of Congress.
Happily married artist is tempted by beautiful model. The Devil delights in making matters worse. Cast includes Arthur V. johnson, George Gebhardt, Harold Salter, Florence Lawrence, Mack Sennett. Silent film with no intertitles.
|George Gebhardt||-||The Devil|
|Claire McDowell||-||Mrs. Harold Thornton|
|Harry Solter||-||Harold Thornton|
|Mack Sennett||-||The Waiter|
|Florence Lawrence||-||A Model|
|Arthur V. Johnson||-||The Wife's Companion|