What if Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster and Laurence Olivier costarred in a first-rate historical war satire at the peak of their respective popularity and power in 1959, and nobody cared all that much when it opened and nobody at all (except for guys like me) gives a damn about it today? 20 months ago I posted a piece about how it was impossible to watch The Devil’s Disciple, a respectable, vigorously acted adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s 1897 play about the Revolutionary War, outside of an annual July 4th airing by TCM. I reported that the black-and-white drama, directed by Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Thunderball), wasn’t on DVD or Bluray, and that you couldn’t stream it on Netflix, Hulu or Vudu. But now, lo and behold, a Bluray version from Kino will street on 11.24.15.
I watched half of The Devil’s Disciple on YouTube in February 2014 and it’s not half-bad — spirited, witty, impassioned and with a highly disicplined running time of only 83 minutes. Pic was the third of seven films that Douglas and Lancaster made together — co-produced by Douglas’s Bryan Prods. and Lancaster’s Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Films (even though Harold Hecht is listed as the sole producer).
Boilerplate: “When Dick Dudgeon (Douglas) learns his father was executed by the British for treason at the onset of the Revolutionary War, he steals the body for a proper burial, ignoring the pleas of his friend, Minister Anthony Anderson (Lancaster), a peace-loving parson, ends up becoming a belligerent firebrand of a rebel trying to save Dudgeon s life. Adapted for the screen by John Dighton (Roman Holiday) and Richard Kibbee (Vera Cruz) and featuring strong direction by James Bond veteran Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger).