The Devil's Partner


1h 1m 1961

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
Atlanta showing: 8 Sep 1961
Production Company
Huron Productions
Distribution Company
The Filmgroup, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

Stranger Nick Richards comes to the remote town of Furnace Flat, Texas, purportedly after receiving a summons from his elderly uncle, Pete Jenson. When sheriff Tom Fuller and local physician Doc Lucas inform Nick that his uncle has recently died, Nick decides to remain in town and continue Pete's business of selling goat milk to the locals. Doc and Tom decide not to tell Nick of the odd circumstances surrounding Pete's death and the discovery of a slain goat and blood found at Pete's body. Soon after arriving, Nick meets Doc's kind and pretty daughter, Nell, who is engaged to David, the owner of the town gas station. Nell, who delivered milk for Pete, confesses to being the only one in Furnace Flat who associated with the eccentric man. Offering to help Nick meet his neighbors, Nell takes him on her milk delivery to solitary Harry Mathews. Soon after the delivery, however, Harry drinks a glass of the goat milk and promptly falls dead. Doc and Tom investigate but can find nothing unusual. The next day, alone in his uncle's shack, Nick conducts a bizarre ceremony bent over a mystical circle on the floor, over a photo of David and his shepherd dog, Prince. At the same time at David's home, Prince unexpectedly attacks David, leaving his face severely mangled. Confused by and bitter over the inexplicable attack and his sudden helplessness, David reluctantly accepts Nick's offer to run the gas station until his recovery. Over the next few days, Nick cheerfully runs the gas station and comforts Nell when she confides that David remains embittered by his disfigurement and is planning to have surgery. Nick then arranges to meet Pete's lone friend, the town drunk, Papers, one night at the shack. That evening, Nick again performs a strange ceremony after which the plastic surgeon coming to consult with David, Dr. Martin, is killed in a car accident. Nell continues to seek solace with the sympathetic Nick over David's increasing hostility, but when Nick kisses her, she leaves in confusion. Papers then visits Nick as arranged, and is horrified when Nick slaughters a goat and, uttering a strange incantation, turns into Pete. Nick tries to tell his old friend that he has sold his soul in order to be young for two years, but Papers flees the shack in shock. Nick transforms into a fierce black stallion that chases Papers down and stomps him to death. When Doc and Tom inspect the body the next day, they discover a message Papers scrawled in the dirt before dying: Pete is rich. With his suspicions growing, the sheriff asks Doc not to release the cause of Papers' demise. Tom then visits the shack where his little terrier, Laddie, unearths the mystical circle with spots of goat blood and outside digs up a bone. Afterward, Tom stops by the gas station to speak with Nick, who mentions the tragedy of Papers' strange trampling death. Tom later meets with Doc to relay his suspicion that Nick is involved in the occult and responsible for all the unexplained deaths. When Nell stops by the sheriff's office to reveal that David has contacted Nick to sell him the station so he can leave Furnace Flat, Tom grows fearful that David will be Nick's next victim. That night as David packs, he notices a snake has slipped into his room and shoots it. Tom, Doc and Nell arrive moments later and follow a trail of the snake's blood back to the shack where Nick lies wounded. Upon hearing the group approaching, Nick assumes the form of the black horse and attempts to race away but is shot down by Tom. While the others watch in fascinated horror, the horse resumes Nick's form. As Nick dies and turns back into Pete, David's scars disappear.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
Atlanta showing: 8 Sep 1961
Production Company
Huron Productions
Distribution Company
The Filmgroup, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although the film carries a copyright statement, it was not registered with the copyright office. Before the opening titles, the film begins with the character of the old man, "Pete" butchering a goat and spreading its blood around the floor of his cabin. According to Hollywood Reporter items from 1958 and 1960, The Devil's Partner was filmed in late 1958 and two years later purchased for distribution by Roger Corman's Filmgroup, Inc. An October 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item lists Arthur Kerman as co-producer and refers to Charles R. Rondeau as Ronald Rondeau.
       Although Ed Nelson is introduced in the onscreen opening credits, he had appeared in several bit and supporting roles since 1955. The Devil's Partner marked the last released film of long-time director of photography Edward Cronjager (1904-1961), who spent much of his career at Twentieth Century-Fox from the 1930s through the early 1950s.