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The Devil and Daniel Webster

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Long available only in a drastically cut version, director William Dieterle’s brooding Faustian fable, The Devil and Daniel Webster, has been reconstructed for this laser edition. While 22 minutes of reinserted scenes look pretty murky (especially since the rest is astoundingly sharp), they’re crucial to understanding why a none-too-bright New Hampshire farmer (James Craig) would be so easily swayed by old Scratch (Walter Huston). Most impressively, the disc’s alternate-audio-track commentary turns dry historical background into crackling entertainment, giving Devil its due as one of the screen’s greatest fantasies. A+