Beautifully photographed studio staged Faustian moral tale that captures, stereotypically, yet with sophistication and impact, shades of evil that threaten to tear the family and the community apart. Seduction, money, land rent, petty bourgeois jealousy for social status are all dramatically inserted at appropriate junctures and via expressionist imagery capture well the transformation of plenitude into Hell. Great!
The greatest Faustian film ever made - a gorgeous melding of Americana with German Expressionism, Walter Huston slyly plays Mr. Scratch and Edward Arnold matches him as the great orator who defends Jabez Stone with a rousing speech about freedom. F/X, Photography and Bernard Herrmann's beautiful music are all tops.
Dieterle was an underrated studio director. This and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' are evidence of his strengths, but his films have aged more than those of his contemporaries. Huston gives a deliciously impish performance (no matter how much his characterization threatens to become unhinged, he keeps control), but the rest of the cast hasn't stood the test of time in the same way. Still, a brilliantly crafted movie.