The Devil and Daniel Webster (film)

1941 film by William Dieterle

The Devil and Daniel Webster is a 1941 film about a nineteenth-century New Hampshire farmer who makes a compact with Mr Scratch (Satan) for economic success and then enlists Daniel Webster to extract him from his contract. The film's title was changed to All That Money Can Buy to avoid confusion with another film released by RKO that year, but later had the title restored on some prints.

Directed by William Dieterle. Written by Stephen Vincent Benét and Dan Totheroh, based on the short story by Stephen Vincent Benét.
The drama of a man who traded all that love can offer for all that money can buy!

Daniel Webster

  • It is the eternal right of every man to raise his fist against his fate!
  • Gentlemen of the jury, tonight it is my privilege to address a group of men I've long been acquainted with in song and story, but men I had never hoped to see. My worthy opponent, Mister Scratch, called you Americans all. Mister Scratch is right. You were Americans all. Oh, what a heritage you were born to share. Gentlemen of the jury, I envy you, for you were present at the birth of a mighty union. It was given to you to hear those first cries of pain and behold the shining babe, born of blood and tears. You are called upon tonight to judge a man named Jabez Stone. What is his case? He's accused of breach of contract. He made a deal to find a shortcut in his life, to get rich quickly, the same kind of a deal all of you once made.
  • You, Benedict Arnold. I speak to you first because you are better known than the rest of your colleagues here. What a different song yours could have been. A friend of Washington and Lafayette, a soldier. General Arnold, you fought so gallantly for the American cause till - let me see, what was the date? - seventeen seventy-nine. That date, burned in your heart. The lure of gold made you betray that cause.
  • I could go on and on and name you all but there's no need of that. Why stir the wounds? I know they pain enough. You were fooled like Jabez Stone, fooled and trapped in your desire to rebel against your fate. Gentlemen of the jury, it is the eternal right of every man to raise his fist against his fate. But when he does, these are crossroads. You took the wrong turn. So did Jabez Stone. But he found it out in time. He's here tonight to save his soul. Gentlemen of the jury, I ask you to give Jabez Stone another chance to walk upon this earth, among the trees, the growing corn, and the smell of grasses in the Spring. What would you all give for another chance to see those things you must all remember and often yearn to touch again? For you were all men once. Clean American air was in your lungs and you breathed it deeply. For it was free and blew across an earth you loved. These are common things I speak of, small things, but they are good things. Yet without your soul, they mean nothing. Without your soul, they sicken.
  • Mister Scratch once told you that your soul meant nothing. And you believed him. And you lost your freedom. Freedom isn't just a big word. It is the morning and the bread and the risen sun. It was for freedom we came to these shores in boats and ships. It was a long journey and a hard one and a bitter one. Yes, there is sadness in being a man... but it is a proud thing, too. And out of the suffering and the starvation and the wrong and the right, a new thing has come: a free man. And when the whips of the oppressors are broken and their names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be talking and walking under a free star. Yes, we have planted freedom in this earth like wheat. And we have said to the skies above us, "A man shall own his own soul... " Now, here is this man. He is your brother. You were Americans all. [points to the Devil] You can't be on his side, the side of the oppressor. Let Jabez Stone keep his soul, a soul which doesn't belong to him alone but to his family, his son, and his country. Gentlemen of the jury, don't let this country go to the devil. Free Jabez Stone. God bless the United States and the men who made her free.


  • Ma Stone: Now, Jabez Stone, as for what you're calling hard luck, we made New England out of it. That and cod fish.


[Jabez Stone is examining Mr. Scratch's contract]
Jabez Stone: What does it mean here, about my soul?
Mr. Scratch: Why should that worry you? A soul? A soul is nothing. Can you see it, smell it, touch it? No. This soul, your soul, are nothing against seven years of good luck. You'll have money and all that money can buy.

[Ma Stone is reading out loud from the book of Job]
Mary Stone: Give me the book, Ma. I'm going to read us something cheerful from the book of Ruth. That is, if you don't mind changing the lesson.
Ma Stone: Land sakes, I don't mind. I never did hold much with Job, even if he is scripture. Took on too much to suit me. Course I don't want to malign the man; but he always sounded to me like he come from Massachusetts.

Jabez Stone: You promised me happiness, love, and friendship!
Mr. Scratch: Just a minute. I promised you money and all that money could buy. I don't recall any other obligations.

Jabez Stone: Money's a funny thing ain't it, Ma?
Ma Stone: I figure it depends a mite on how you get it and how you spend it.
Jabez Stone: But I don't spend any.
Ma Stone: But you should, son. That's all it's good for.
Jabez Stone: Do you really think that?
Ma Stone: That's just common sense. Now a man like Daniel Webster: guess they pay him high for what he does, but he's worth it. And he helps others... makes all the difference.
Jabez Stone: I know. But suppose a man got his money in bad ways?
Ma Stone: Wouldn't profit him none. You see, son: I'm old and I've lived. When a man gets his money in bad way... when he sees the better course and takes the worse... then the devil's in his heart. And that fixes him.
Jabez Stone: And yet... a man could change all that couldn't he?
Ma Stone: A man can always change things. That's what makes him different from the barnyard critters.

[Webster and Stone are waiting for Mr. Scratch]
Daniel Webster: How long do we have to wait?
Jabez Stone: 'Til midnight.
Daniel Webster: Oh, that's fine - then we have time to christen a jug. Old Medford rum: aahh, there's nothing like it. You know, somehow or other, waiting becomes wonderfully shorter with a jug. I saw an inchworm once take a drop of this and he stood right up on his hind legs and bit a bee! [chuckles and takes a drink] Will you have a nip?
Jabez Stone: No, there's no joy in it for me.
Daniel Webster: Oh, come, come now. Just because you sold your soul to the devil that needn't make you a teetotaler.

[Webster is examining the contract Mr. Scratch has with Stone]
Daniel Webster: This appears - mind you, I say appears - to be properly drawn. But you shan't have this man. A man isn't a piece of property. Mr. Stone is an American citizen... and an American citizen cannot be forced into the service of a foreign prince.
Mr. Scratch: Foreign? Who calls me a foreigner?
Daniel Webster: Well, I never heard of the de... I never heard of you claiming American citizenship.
Mr. Scratch: And who has a better right? When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there. When the first slaver put out for the Congo, I stood on the deck. Am I not still spoken of in every church in New England? It's true the North claims me for a Southerner and the South for a Northerner, but I'm neither. Tell the truth, Mr. Webster - though I don't like to boast of it - my name is older in the country than yours.
Daniel Webster: Then I stand on the Constitution. I demand a trial for my client.
Mr. Scratch: You mean a jury trial?
Daniel Webster: I do! And if I can't win this case with a jury you'll have me, too. If two New Hampshire men aren't a match for the devil, we better give the country back to the Indians.

Mr. Scratch: You shall have your trial, Mr. Webster. But I'm sure you'll agree, this is hardly the case for an ordinary jury.
Daniel Webster: Let it be the quick or the dead, so long as it is an American judge and an American jury!
Mr. Scratch: 'The quick or the dead!' You have said it. [he stomps on the barn floor; a door opens] You must pardon the leathery toughness of one or two.
Jabez Stone: [afraid] Mr. Webster!
[a line of ghosts begin entering from the trapdoor]
Mr. Scratch: Captain Kidd, he killed men for gold. Simon Girty, the renegade; he burned men for gold. Governor Dale, he broke men on the wheel. Asa, the Black Monk, he choked them to death. Floyd Ireson and Stede Bonnet, the fiendish butchers. Walter Butler, the king of the massacre. Big and Little Harpe, robbers and murderers. Teach, the cutthroat. Morton, the vicious lawyer. And General Benedict Arnold, you remember him, no doubt.
Daniel Webster: A jury of the damned.
Mr. Scratch: [laughs] Dastards, liars, traitors, knaves.
Daniel Webster: This is monstrous.
Mr. Scratch: You asked for a jury trial, Mr. Webster. Your suggestion – the quick or the dead.
Daniel Webster: I asked for a fair trial.
Mr. Scratch: Americans all.

Jabez Stone: What do you have on your mind?
Daniel Webster: You, Jabez Stone. You and a lot of poor farmers hereabouts... all good men of the earth and in trouble because of you. Or am I wrong about those contracts?
Jabez Stone: Without me and my money they wouldn't have anything.
Daniel Webster: They'd have a good neighbor - and that's worth more than anything else... much, much more.

Daniel Webster: What are you looking for, Colonel? What's your name?
Martin Van Buren Aldrich: Martin Van Buren Aldrich. My pa is the only Democrat in Cross Corners. He said you had horns and a tail, Mr. Webster, but I ain't seen them yet.
Daniel Webster: [laughs] You see, Martin, I only wear them when I'm in Washington. That's the trouble. But if you ever get down there, I'll be glad to show them to you.
Martin Van Buren Aldrich: Gee, would you, Mr. Webster? Honest?
Daniel Webster: Of course! And you tell your father for me, that we may be on opposite sides of the fence, but I'm always glad to hear of a man who holds to his own opinion. As long as the people do that, this country is all right.

Daniel Webster: Oh, it's you again. What do you want?
Mr. Scratch: Well, with the presidential election coming up, I thought I could be of some help, sir.
Daniel Webster: I'd rather see you on the side of the opposition.
Mr. Scratch: Oh, I'll be there, too.