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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shake Hands With The Devil (1959)

In the Dublin of 1921, an American medical student (Don Murray) with Irish roots is drawn into the battle between the "black and tans" (British soldiers) and the Irish Republican Army. A violent and gritty film based on the novel by Reardon Connor, the director Michael Anderson (AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS) takes us right into the heart of the turbulent struggle of the Irish rebels against the repressive British forces. Playing no favorites, he eschews sentiment and the brutality is very much in our faces. James Cagney, even more cold and hateful than his Cody Jarrett of WHITE HEAT, gives one of his very best performances as an IRA leader whose taste for killing has made him forget why he's fighting. Erwin Hillier is responsible for the stark images shot on location in Ireland and William Alwyn did the busy underscore. With Glynis Johns, who gives a wonderful performance as a promiscuous barmaid. Also Dana Wynter, Michael Redgrave, Dame Sybil Thorndike, Cyril Cusack, Allan Cuthbertson, Niall MacGinnis, Ray McAnally and Richard Harris, still early in his career but already overacting.

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