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The Devil and Max Devlin [1981] (1 disc)

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Director:Steven Hilliard Stern
Writer:Jimmy Sangster
Mary Rodgers
Composer:Buddy Baker
Length:96 minutes
(1 hour 36 minutes)
MPAA Rating:PG
Sorting Category:Family
IMDB Rating:5.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:18%
Amazon Rating:4.5/5 stars
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Classifications:
  • Comedy
  • Fantasy
  • Dark Comedy
  • Drama
  • Family
Available Formats:
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Synopsis: Max, a dead corrupt businessman, makes a Faustian pact with Satan's henchman to drive three people to Hell in exchange for longer life. Soon Max realizes that there still may be good in him.


Reaction: Odd and a bit off-beat. But I watched this one nearly to death when I was a kid, so I have a hard time not enjoying it. Objectively, though, I admit it has problems of story and tone.


Personal Rating: 7/10

Steven Hilliard Stern => Director
Jimmy Sangster => Writer
Mary Rodgers => Writer
Buddy Baker => Composer
Adam Rich => Toby Hart
Bill Cosby => Barney Satin
Chuck Shamata => Jerry Nadler
David Knell => Nerve Nordlinger
Elliott Gould => Max Devlin
Gary Morgan => Record Store D.J.
James Almanzar => Ticket Taker
Julie Budd => Stella Summers
Madelyn Cates => Mrs. Trent
Mark Andrews => Jock #3
Mindy Sterling => Fan #1 at Grammy's
Peter Renaday => Studio Engineer (as Pete Renaday)
Reggie Nalder => Chairman of Devil's Council
Robert S. Telford => Camper Owner
Roger Price => Old Man
Ronnie Schell => Greg Weems
Sonny Shroyer => Big Billy Hunniker
Stanley Brock => The Counterman
Stu Gilliam => Orderly #1
Susan Anspach => Penny Hart
Tracie Savage => Pammy
Vernon Weddle => Justice of the Peace

Random Trivia For This Title:

  • Walt Disney Productions received angry letters over the dialogue's use of four-letter words even though 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Sleeping Beauty (1959), both made while Walt Disney was still alive, had characters who used the word "hell", and Pluto had actually dreamed about ending up there for chasing cats in Pluto's Judgement Day (1935).
  • The set for Hell was made from plaster stalagmites, dry ice, smoke machines, and 20 butane furnaces. This made the set so hot that the actors could only stay inside the sound stage for a short time.
  • Bill Cosby took the role of Barney Satin after the studio had made several unsuccessful attempts to cast him in earlier projects and despite his wife's objections to the idea of him playing the Devil. He believed it would be a step forward for a black actor to play a role usually played by white actors.
  • The first scenes shown of hell are taken from Disney's The Black Hole (with Max's falling body added to the fire-red backdrop that includes marching slaves in dark hooded cloaks).
  • Despite the success of [The Cosby Show (1984)], the film was unavailable on video for almost 20 years after its initial home video release until Anchor Bay released it and other lesser-known Disney live-action films to DVD in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • Writer Jimmy Sangster had originally planned for this to be a more serious addition to the horror genre, to be made for Hammer, and with Vincent Price starring. The title would have been " The Fairytale Man".
  • During the UK 'video nasty' scare of the 1980's anti-censorship journalist [?] Liam T. Sanford wrote a false letter petitioning against this film to the Police Watch Committee, claiming the movie to be 'sick and horrific', in an attempt to discredit local police forces and expose their lack of film knowledge. Sure enough the film was briefly seized by officers from video retailers before being hastily returned to the shelves.
  • Barney's surname, Satin, is a play on the name Satan.