Tuesday, November 19, 2013

THE DEVIL'S PARTNER (1958)

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.  The second greatest trick is a little more elaborate.  It starts with a movie poster with a half-naked lady bullying a centaur with a torch.


"That looks like pure gold!" one would say.  "Satyrs and naked torchbearing ladies?  And it's a Satan movie from the science-mad fifties?  Synopsis sounds Lovecraft-like?  Here, take all my money!"  But it's all a cruel ruse devised by the master of lies.  Worst of all, this movie that no one should watch has a crummy transfer, courtesy of Alpha Video.


This goat doesn't have the kind of bad night you'd expect, given the surroundings, but he still meets a sad fate.  Satan rituals abound, even in the 1950s, and it's educational to see that Satanists can still obtain earthly glory through their rituals, because look at those digs.  This grizzled old Satanist dies, we're supposed to believe, then his nephew shows up in town and receives the traditional "nephew of a Satanist" welcome.  


Prejudice and superstition!  Are, in this case, exactly the right reaction.


Satanic ritual sure looks a lot like bikram yoga, so maybe panicked Christians of our day are right?  Devil powers seem pretty limited as well, mostly overlapping with the powers of the Beastmaster.  Dogs can be spurred to attack their masters and cows to nap in the road, but otherwise Satanists can't do much more than Mormons or Zoroastrians.


Given the wardrobe choices of our young antagonist, it wouldn't surprise me if he were bullied by Mormons in the deleted scenes.  Who tucks in a tie?  So much of this film is the story of talking and arguments, hazardous paths to travel, as we've seen so often.  Voluble dialogue and delusions of grandeur?  Maybe this really is the most authentic portrayal of Satanism in film...


THE DEVIL'S PARTNER makes a big huge cardinal error and inflates it so it can be seen from space.  As pointed out in this Final Girl post, devil people in movies often fail because they seemingly have no planning skills.  This Satanist's grand plan involves working at a gas station and enlisting the local store-brand Torgo as his sole assistant.  How is evil supposed to conquer the world with those kinds of management decisions?


I know that, in 1958, you can't really have the movie working on the side of darkness and lust, but please give the heavy some reason for doing what he's doing.  Our infernal mage here seems to have the same game plan as stoners from my hometown: work a terrible job, try to hook up with the local betty, and hang out with the town drunk.  Not really the stuff of compelling cinema and this sure isn't.


RATING: 4

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