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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, French, German, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish

    The Devil & Max Devlin

    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . G . PAL


    Hell and Disney. Unless you’re of a more cynical bent, the two really don’t go together that well, something that’s proven in this remarkably dated concoction from 1981.

    Max Devlin (Elliott Gould) is the uncaring owner of a rundown apartment house full of pissed-off tenants. Upon chasing down a late-payer one day he has a run-in with a bus, coming out the loser and setting off on an apparent descent into the bowels of Hell. Hardly jazzed at this untimely death, he’s offered a chance to regain his life by a denizen of the hot and fiery place in Barney Satin (Bill Cosby); claim the souls of three goody-goody youngsters by a certain date and he’ll be all live-y and breathe-y again.

    His marks are a wannabe singer in Stella Summers, a geeky student with dreams of motocross stardom in the ridiculously named Nerve Nordlinger and a hopelessly blah, cutesy little kid in Toby (Eight is Enough’s Adam Rich). The first two prove quite easy targets, however Toby offers a greater challenge – he wants a Dad, so Max’s goal is to woo his Mom (Susan Anspach) into wedlock. Devlin is aided by a capacity to influence the abilities of those whose signatures he’s after, as long as they’re within eyeshot. Naturally Susan becomes all famous and stuff on the back of one unbelievably aggravating, repeated ad infinitum song, Nerve hoons it up like a champion and Toby, well, he’s just an annoyingly cloying little kid easily able to extinguish the most hopeless case of cluckiness in any biological-clock-is-ticking female.

    Being a Disney affair, this is about as dark as a solar flare. What represents Hell is delightfully laughable and despite an on-the-surface evil in the story’s premise, it all eventually gives way to a rather open for interpretation finish, whereby naturally everybody’s all redeemed, good and happy and stuff and it’s debatable whether it was all even a plot from down there at all rather than just a sneaky set-up from somewhere in the heavens to make Max see the error of his wicked, wicked ways.


    Max has been given a 1.85:1, 16:9 enhanced transfer, which is pretty much where the good news stops. It’s hardly a dreadful presentation, however the print isn’t in the best shape; blobs and other filmic glunk are present for the most part, plus there’s an alarming chunk missing from the film at around the 66:12 mark. Colour has that familiar bright and washed out ‘70s look to it, while it’s all about as sharp as a Nerf ball. Being so bright shadow detail is scarcely an issue, a good thing as rare trips into the dark hardly deliver wondrous results.


    Despite its mono origins, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the only option. Obviously Hell is a rather drab and monaural place, as there’s basically no use of the surrounds despite all manner of thunder and the like, while the subwoofwoof remains so dormant it may have you putting in a call to the Lost Dogs Home. While dialogue is rarely hard to understand, there’s a harshness at work in the musical bits that is quite grating. Speaking of things musical, the very of-its-time score comes from the very named-of-his-time Buddy Baker, while that confounded song has some musical muscle behind it in Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer-Sager. It’s still suckier than a zillion watt Hoover though.


    The devil has obviously been at play here, whisking away any semblance of extras for his own amusement.


    While Gould is always fun to watch, Bill Cosby’s talents are scarcely called upon, in a film which typifies that time of the ‘70s and ‘80s when Disney were rather lost and aimless in their approach to movie-making. Despite being one of those titles that invokes fond memories from many people’s youths, this doesn’t hold up at all well when viewed through an adult’s peepers – not managing to raise even a vague titter – and not at all aided in its quest by a decidedly average transfer.

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      And I quote...
    "Being a Disney affair, this remarkably dated concoction is about as dark as a solar flare..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-466-K
    • TV:
          Loewe Xelos 5381ZW 81cm 100Hz
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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