The Devil (1921)

THE DEVIL (1921)
Article 4515 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-25-2014
Directed by James Young
Featuring George Arliss, Sylvia Breamer, Lucy Cotton
Country: USA
What it is: Drama

A seemingly kindly and philanthropic doctor meddles in the lives of a businessmen, an artist, and the women they both love.

The opening scenes in this movie imply that the title should be taken metaphorically; the “devil” is a false friend who seeks to undo the happiness you have. If the movie remained true to that metaphorical definition, it might still be an interesting movie, but it wouldn’t qualify for the genres which I’m covering. However, when you see the title character reacting with horror to a cross-carrying monk at a costume party, you get your first clue that maybe the title isn’t quite as metaphorical as it seems. This movie was the cinematic debut of actor George Arliss, and he is very memorable as the evil Dr. Muller. What I like best about his performance is that his appearance and demeanor are almost comic, which makes it understandable why it takes so long for the characters to see through his machinations. It’s a good if not great movie, and it’s nice to see it after all these years; it ended up on my “ones that got away” list, from which I can now rescue it, thanks to it showing up on YouTube.

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