Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Devil's Disciple|
Actors: Elizabeth Spriggs, Cheryl Maiker, Graham Turner, Patrick Stewart, Susan Wooldridge
Director: David Hugh Jones
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
In New Hampshire in 1777, Dick Dudgeon's father dies. Called back home to the unhappy family he revolted against years ago, Dick finds he has been named heir, much to the horror of his religious mother (Elizabeth Spriggs).... more »
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"The Devil's Disciple" Sent From Heaven
Jonathan Alexandratos | Knoxville, TN | 05/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just watched this wonderful 2-hour BBC program now on DVD. The wit of Bernard Shaw is crisp and biting in the dialogue. The actors, namely Patrick Stewart and Ian Richardson, pump just the right amount of energy, sarcasm, drama, and humor into their lines to make this piece truly enjoyable. Shaw is the only playwright who has ever had the power to make me laugh and cry at the same time. This piece will undoubtedly do that for you.
The DVD transfer is nothing special, though. Some images look a bit grainy. The sound quality is fairly crisp, but everything is perfectly audible. This DVD has one extra, which is also marvelous: a program titled, "The Wit and Wisdom of G. Bernard Shaw." It is a great biography of the playwright's life with scenes and quotes recited by (a 1980s) Christopher Plummer among other fine actors. I would recommend this DVD for purchase by anyone with a remote interest in Shaw or the actors in the program. Also, if you're interested in stories set in Revolutionary War America, I would recommend this to you as well. Basically, if you've clicked on this page out of curiosity, you have what it takes to fully enjoy this program! Enjoy!"
The Devil's Disciple as George Bernard Shaw wrote it
Claudia Thompson | Laramie, WY USA | 11/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Devil's Disciple is not one of George Bernard Shaw's best-known plays, perhaps because it lacks the cynicism and misanthropy of classic Shaw (Pygmalion, Man and Superman). The characters in The Devil's Disciple are generally likeable people who come to generally good ends. This does not mean that Shaw's satire is absent. His targets in this play are religious and class hypocrisy. The kind of class snobbery represented by General Burgoyne (Ian Richardson), who is determined to commit his atrocities in a gentleman-like manner, may be lost on modern audiences, but Shaw's attacks on religious hypocrisy are quite timely.
The play is set in New England during the American Revolution. Richard Dudgeon (Mike Gwilym) has been called back to his Puritanical home village after his father's death. Richard is in rebellion against the strict morality of his upbringing and does everything he can to shock and scandalize his neighbors and family by claiming to be the Devil's disciple. Richard also brings the news that British troops are marching toward the village arresting and hanging suspected rebels. The local minister, Anthony Anderson (Patrick Stewart), determines to reclaim Richard. The minister invites the reprobate into his home over the protests of his pretty young wife, Judith (Susan Woolridge), then leaves the two together while he answers a parish call. British troops break in, seeking not the reprobate Richard but the upright minister. The British arrest the wrong man, leaving the minister's wife torn between desire to save an innocent man and desire to save her husband. Her confusion is furthered when neither man acts the way she expected.
This 1987 BBC production boasts an incredibly strong cast. Mike Gwilym finds all the nuances in Richard Dudgeon, who is not as free of his Puritan upbringing as he would like to think. Elizabeth Spriggs is both bitter and righteous as Richard's narrow mother. Ian Richardson, as the British commander General Burgoyne, is as cold as he is well-mannered. Susan Woolridge does a competent job with Shaw's least believable part, the young wife who confuses her pity for one man and disappointment with another for a shift in her own affections. But it is Patrick Stewart, as the one man of strong principle and true charity in a town full of hypocrites, who really dominates. When Stewart is on-screen, the contrived plot (even Shaw called it a melodrama) becomes convincing and this production moves from pretty good to outstanding. Anyone who still thinks of Stewart mainly as Star Trek's Jean-Luc Picard should see this performance just to get a better sense of his dramatic range.
For those familiar with the 1959 movie version of The Devil's Disciple, starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Laurence Olivier, a word of caution. The 1959 movie took large liberties with Shaw's text. This is the play as Shaw wrote it, with each sharp epigrammatic line of dialogue preserved and without the insertion of unscripted action sequences. This is pure Shaw, well-directed, beautifully-acted, surprisingly moving. Highly recommended.
BBC America Production -- Fascinatingly Historic!
Scotman | Mt. Shasta, CA | 07/11/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With a title like 'Devil's Disciple' I was expecting some kind of Satan worship or something. What I got was far different and far more interesting.
It's the American Revolution, 1777, as British general Burgoyne comes down from the north, hanging potential leaders to quell rebellion. One such unlucky fellow is the uncle of one Dick Dudgeon (Mike Gwilym) is the "devil's disciple," self-proclaimed.
At about the same time as the passing of his uncle by the British rope, Dick comes back home to his mother and family as they await the reading of the will of his recently deceased father. To everyone's surprise, Dick is given most of the money and property. His mother hates her son, curses him but she has no power over him now that the will has been deemed valid.
Despite these things, Dick is a happy guy and seems to delight in being the foil to the Puritan ideals of the townsfolk.
To throw off the yolk of British imperialism though, it will take certain people to speak out for freedom and Burgoyne's campaign of death is doing its job -- anyone outspoken enough will be hanged.
We also meet the minister (Tony Anderson) of the village, well-played by Patrick Stewart (of Star Trek fame). His eloquent speech and manner are that of a minister -- forgiving, and a solid foundation of faith.
Dick confronts him and also declares he himself is as solid in his foundation of the devil as the minister is of his faith.
The story takes a major turn when the minister leaves his wife and house on an errand, leaving Dick with the minister's wife. Just then, the Redcoats come in and arrest who they think is the minister. Pretending to be the minister, both Dick and the wife (Judith) let the Brits be fooled.
Trouble is, looks like Dick will be hanged! The further story of the trial, of Judith's hatred and then 180 degree turn of emotion is compelling. Also Gentlemen Johnny (nickname for Burgoyne) realizes that his days are possibly numbered, as Patrick Stewart comes riding to the rescue.
Inventive, and clearly a sarcastic interpretation of relations between not only men or women, but that agnostics also have a faith of sorts -- and we all have faith in freedom -- and perhaps that's the real upshot of Americans -- their renewed sense of purpose and freedom rather than the Brit's purpose (in the film at least) of maintaining a status quo.
I have not seen the old version from the Sixties, but this 1987 BBC production is a must-see for sure. The sets were made as if with a play or theater in mind (G. Bernard Shaw being a playwright, this is not surprising) -- painted backdrop, accurate historical costumes as well as in the context of the historical battle that was about to play out with Gentlemen Johnny.