All That Money Can Buy (a.k.a. The Devil and Daniel Webster)


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Jabez Stone is a hardworking farmer trying to make an honest living, but a streak of bad luck tempts him to do the unthinkable: bargain with the devil himself. In exchange for seven years of good fortune, Stone promises “Mr. Scratch” his soul. But when the troubled farmer begins to realize the error of his choice, he enlists the aid of the one man who might save him: the legendary orator and politician Daniel Webster. Directed with stylish flair by William Dieterle, All That Money Can Buy brings the classic short story by Stephen Vincent Benét to life with inspired visuals, an unforgettable, Oscar-winning score by Bernard Herrmann, and a truly diabolical performance from Walter Huston as the devil.

Picture 9/10

The Criterion Collection updates William Dieterle’s All That Money Can Buy (also known as The Devil and Daniel Webster) for Blu-ray, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on a dual-layer disc. The 1080p/24hz presentation is taken from a new 4K restoration performed by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation, scanned from the 35 mm original nitrate negative and a German 35 mm nitrate duplicate negative. This restoration reconstructs the film to its original version (released initially as Here Is a Man), adding a couple of inserts alongside audio where the name of a demon judge is revealed.

As impressive as Criterion’s 2003 DVD edition has held up, this new Blu-ray presentation and its 4K restoration offer a clear and substantial upgrade over it. In terms of cleaning up damage and marks, this new restoration cleans up just about all of the flaws still on the DVD, from dirt to scratches and splices, leaving only a handful of tiny marks behind. Grayscale is far broader than what the DVD could accomplish, with a more range in the shadows, which there are plenty of. In the included commentary, Bruce Eder mentions how prints made before the previous “new” restoration were contrasty and hard to see, and that’s no longer anything near an issue.

Scenes that looked dupey in the DVD presentation no longer appear that way here, outside of shots using optical effects (like an axe throwing). The encoding also seems very good, rendering grain cleanly and producing crisp details. It’s a gorgeous-looking presentation.

Audio 6/10

The PCM 1.0 monaural soundtrack also delivers a sizeable improvement over the previous presentation. Bernard Herrman’s music still sounds rather sharp, if flat in places, but the dialogue sounds cleaner with better fidelity and less distortion. There also don't appear to be any cracks, pops, or drops.

Extras 7/10

Criterion ports over material from the previous DVD, starting with an audio commentary featuring film historian Bruce Eder and Bernard Herrmann biographer Steven C. Smith, initially recorded for Criterion’s LaserDisc in 1991 and updated for the DVD in 2003. Eder has the bulk of the track, getting into the film’s production background and the reasons behind its various titles (there were not only issues with having the word “Devil” in the title, but apparently, it was also not ideal to have Daniel Webster’s name there, too). This explains why the film was cut significantly to 84 minutes in the 50s. He also talks about troubled production (Thomas Mitchell, cast initially to play Webster, was replaced following a severe on-set injury he was lucky to survive) and its disastrous release, being met with less-than-stellar reviews and a cold audience reaction, with Eder hypothesizing as to why the film ultimately flopped. Throughout, he also talks about the cast, points out how some of the effects were done, admires the photography, and even talks extensively about the members of the “jury” who appear at the end. I like Eder’s tracks and found this one to be another solid one, keeping a good pace while being well-researched.

Smith only pops up about 50 minutes in for a short time, 12 minutes or so. His focus ends up being on Herrmann’s score, explaining how the composer came to be involved in the project, what inspired him, and how some of the effects in his score were created, including how Herrmann incorporated the hum of telephone wires. This portion proves fascinating, though the DVD also included a multimedia essay (a navigable gallery of text notes, photos, and film clips) that delved further into the score’s inspiration. Sadly, Criterion has chosen not to port that feature over in any way outside of some of its content being briefly mentioned elsewhere.

Criterion does port over some of the other content found on the DVD. The version comparison compares similar sections between the original theatrical release, Here Is a Man, and the version known as The Devil and Daniel Webster, which had differing edits and title cards (the film version on this disc more resembles Here Is a Man with the added inserts of Walter Huston’s Mr. Scratch). Criterion has not updated the feature to explain how the edit on this disc, All That Money Can Buy, compares, but this does get covered by a new 6-minute program on the restoration. On top of making before-and-after comparisons, the program examines the film’s various versions and titles a little more.

The gallery included on the DVD is no longer here. However, the disc still contains the audio-only supplements, including two radio adaptations: one for The Devil and Daniel Webster and the other for Daniel Webster and Sea Serpent, running 29 minutes each and created for CBS Radio’s Columbia Workshop. Alec Baldwin’s 2003 recording of him reading the original Stephen Vincent Benét short story is also here, running 34 minutes. I still assume Baldwin's participation was based on his attempt at directing a remake that was ultimately plagued by production issues, including the F.B.I. looking into fraud. (The film would eventually be released as Shortcut to Happiness with Baldwin's name removed as director.)

Criterion also includes a 2019 interview with Jeff Smith, initially recorded for The Criterion Channel. In the 13-minute program, Smith examines the film’s editing and how it handles cross-cutting and the passage of time. This includes such practices as “Continuity,” “Match on Action,” “Fades,” and the “180 rule.” Not entirely new concepts at the time, and all pretty standard today, he breaks down specific sequences to point out how smoothly and borderline unnoticeable many of these edits are within the film. It’s a fine enough program, though I still wish Criterion had produced something new to replace the multimedia essay on the DVD.

The disc closes with the film’s trailer, along with an insert featuring an essay by Tom Piazza and a reprint of an article by Stephen Vincent Benét, both included in the insert for the DVD edition. Criterion has not updated any references to the film’s alternate title, The Devil and Daniel Webster, but note this in the introduction.

It's still a good set of supplements, Eder’s commentary being the strongest.


Despite dropping a couple from the DVD release, the release features a decent set of supplements. However, the new high-def presentation is gorgeous, surpassing the still impressive-looking DVD.


Directed by: William Dieterle
Year: 1941
Time: 106 min.
Series: The Criterion Collection
Edition #: 214
Release Date: March 12 2024
MSRP: $39.95
1 Disc | BD-50
1.37:1 ratio
English 1.0 PCM Mono
Subtitles: English
Region A
 Audio commentary by film historian Bruce Eder and Steven C. Smith, biographer of composer Bernard Herrmann   New restoration demonstration   Reading by actor Alec Baldwin of the short story by Stephen Vincent Benét on which the film is based   Episode of the Criterion Channel series Observations on Film Art about the film’s editing   Comparison of the differences between the July 1941 preview version of the film, Here Is a Man, and the film’s 1943 rerelease as The Devil and Daniel Webster   The Columbia Workshop’s radio adaptations of Benét’s short stories “The Devil and Daniel Webster” and “Daniel Webster and the Sea Serpent,” both featuring music by Herrmann   Trailer   An essay by author Tom Piazza and a 1941 article by Stephen Vincent Benét