4

I just watched a 1943 french movie “La Main du Diable” directed by Maurice Tourneur. I think my question is on-topic because a Faustian contract with the Devil is Fantasy, even though very few actual fantastic effects appear on screen.

Since the “fantasy” tag is for questions on the genre, not on specific works of Fantasy, I chose the tag “horror”, but horror is mostly implied, not seen, just as in all but the very end of “Rosemary’s baby”.

Throughout the movie, I was sure I had seen it before, and I was confident I knew the end : in the beginning, the cook who sold to the protagonist the Devil’s hand, the object of the Faustian contract, told him that it could only be sold it for a price smaller than the price it was bought for. As usual the Faustian contract was anything he wanted, money, fame, love, in exchange for his soul unless he managed to sell it before he died. Since the cook had bought it for two “sous”, the protagonist could only buy it for just one single “sou” That was a bit strange, because even at that time, the “sou” was not a real monetary unit, but a nickname for five “centimes”, or the coin of that value, just like a “nickel” is five cents, so he could have bought it for up to nine centimes. But maybe neither had smaller change than one “sou” on that occasion ? So I expected the end to fit my memory, and be related to the smallness of the price paid by the protagonist.

Most of the movie went more or less as I believed I remembered. But the end was totally different.

I’m not spoiling for you the end of the movie I just saw but it did not depend on that "sou".

As I think I remember, at some point the protagonist realises that he could sell it for just four or fewer centimes. Though I think I remember that the first price was the smallest unit at that time, in the country where it took place, but that was two monetary units of a different country but the person who’d buy it would really never be able to sell it to a third party. And the protagonist felt too conscientious to cheat anyone to such a terrible fate. Then a drunkard who heard the whole story claimed he did not care to go to hell if he could drink all he wanted and bought the hand for one of these foreign coins, thus saving the protagonist’s soul.

Now is there an alternate version of “La Main du Diable” with “my” ending ?

Or is there a very similar movie, with essentially the same beginning (but with really the smallest monetary unit of the country where the story takes place) and the end I describe ?


MODIFIED EDIT

From the comments of Adamant and Clara Diaz Sanchez it became obvious that my movie exists and is an adaptation of The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The link I give herelists many such adaptations. Mine is neither the silent 1917 movie nor an animated feature film as the 1952 one. And all the others are much too recent, I saw it much more than 40 years ago.

I am positive I watched it in french.

But still two options remain, the french 1935 movie, or possibly a french dubbing of the 1934 german version.

So it is a toss between the two movies directed by Heinz Hilpert and Reinhart Steinbicker, the 1934 german one and the 1935 french one. They were made respectively by the german company UFA and its french subsidiary, so they are probably very close to each other.

It would be more logical for french TV to air a movie originally in French rather than a french dubbing of a german one.

Moreover, though Pierre Fresnay, protagonist of "La Main du Diable" does not really look like Pierre Blanchar, protagonist of the 1935 movie there are some similarities between them which are totally absent with Albin Skoda protagonist of the 1934 one. That I was convinced during most of the movie "La Main du Diable" that it was the other movie might indicate that I more or less confused Fresnay with Blanchar.

Is there a way to compare the 1934 german version to the 1935 french one to tell whether they differ on this very precise point ?

There are two details that might help me definitely find out.

Though the bottle was bought with the smallest unit in metropolitan France, it was worth five of the smallest coins in Tahiti. This is what I found in a synopsis here : fra.wiki/wiki/Le_Diable_en_bouteille Now the figure five did strike a chord. Is it the same number in the german movie (maybe in a different country - Tahiti does not strike a chord, only the fact one could subdivise a french "centime") ?

But one scene I remember vividly might tell even better the two version apart for me.

The protagonist, Kiwe, having bought the bottle for one french centime, goes to Tahiti where, contrary to metropolitan France, this can still be divided into five subunits. But I remember clearly that the had scruples about selling it to someone who would be unable to sell it again, since the number of re-selling becomes too small.

The drunk sailor solves the conundrum by saying he wants to keep the bottle event unto death rather than sell it again, being sure to go to Hell regardless.

The scene when the protagonist expressed these scruples was really a very striking moment which I am positive did take place.

In the review here (thanks, Clara Diaz Sanchez) there is no mention of such scruples, but for a french reader it is apparent that the reviewer is not a very good one. He might well have neglected these scruples I found so important myself.

Are these scruples characteristic one only one of these movies ? It was not mentioned in the synopsis above, but this proves nothing. If it is absent from one of the two movies, then I would know for sure I saw the other one.


15
  • The story is almost certainly based on "The Monkey's Paw" or indirectly "The Bottle Imp," which have that sort of ending and have had various film adaptations and imitations.
    – Adamant
    Jan 28 at 2:19
  • @Adamant Not "The Monkey's Paw", there is no mother in my movie. I found the synopsis of the book "The bottle Imp" by Stevenson. That is indeed it, including the drunk sailor at the end. Certainly not the 1917 silent movie. Quite possibly the 1935 version but I found very little on Imdb on thaat one. Can you help me find a bit more ?
    – Alfred
    Jan 28 at 4:25
  • @ClaraDiazSanchez Are you quoting the novel by Stevenson ? After Adamant directed me to it, I was already convinced that was the origin of my movie. Or is this a direct quote from the 1935 movie, rather than a dubbing of the german version of 1934, or still a different version ?
    – Alfred
    Jan 28 at 8:34
  • 1
    It’s just a lil retro Santana like you said. Jan 30 at 12:14
  • 1
    @PaulD.Waite LOL First I heard of that group. I am not very knowledgeable in this domain
    – Alfred
    Jan 30 at 18:49

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.