The Devil and Max Devlin (1981)

PG | 95 mins | Comedy | 11 February 1981

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HISTORY

       According to an article in the 12 Jul 1979 HR, an early working title for the film was Miracle Max, and it was one of two films Walt Disney Productions postponed from its 1979 production schedule to 1980. The 10 Oct 1979 Var announced that principal photography was planned for late Apr 1980 with a budget in the $6–8 million range. The 22 Feb 1980 DV reported that filming would begin 1 Apr 1980, but an Apr 1980 Disney press release in AMPAS files noted principal photography started 14 Apr 1980. The Aug 1981 International Photographer reported that The Devil and Max Devlin filmed in the Los Angeles, CA, area. Locations included the Universal Amphitheatre, the Troubadour nightclub, the Music Center, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Indian Dunes and Venice beach, and a Disney soundstage was converted into the “devil’s inner sanctum.” An article in the 5 Jun 1980 DV listed the film’s budget at $9 million, and later in the month, the 18 Jun 1980 DV reported principal photography was complete, with director Steven Hilliard Stern finishing one week ahead of schedule and almost $1 million under budget.
       The 13 Aug 1980 HR reported the film would be released 19 Dec 1980 in Los Angeles, CA, but an item in the 23 Sep 1980 HR noted the film’s release date was moved to Feb 1981, and the animated feature Aristocats (1970, see entry) would be reissued in the Christmas 1980 slot. The film opened in Los Angeles, CA, ... More Less

       According to an article in the 12 Jul 1979 HR, an early working title for the film was Miracle Max, and it was one of two films Walt Disney Productions postponed from its 1979 production schedule to 1980. The 10 Oct 1979 Var announced that principal photography was planned for late Apr 1980 with a budget in the $6–8 million range. The 22 Feb 1980 DV reported that filming would begin 1 Apr 1980, but an Apr 1980 Disney press release in AMPAS files noted principal photography started 14 Apr 1980. The Aug 1981 International Photographer reported that The Devil and Max Devlin filmed in the Los Angeles, CA, area. Locations included the Universal Amphitheatre, the Troubadour nightclub, the Music Center, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Indian Dunes and Venice beach, and a Disney soundstage was converted into the “devil’s inner sanctum.” An article in the 5 Jun 1980 DV listed the film’s budget at $9 million, and later in the month, the 18 Jun 1980 DV reported principal photography was complete, with director Steven Hilliard Stern finishing one week ahead of schedule and almost $1 million under budget.
       The 13 Aug 1980 HR reported the film would be released 19 Dec 1980 in Los Angeles, CA, but an item in the 23 Sep 1980 HR noted the film’s release date was moved to Feb 1981, and the animated feature Aristocats (1970, see entry) would be reissued in the Christmas 1980 slot. The film opened in Los Angeles, CA, on 11 Feb 1981.
       The Devil and Max Devlin marked the feature film debuts of Julie Budd and Adam Rich.

      End credits include the following statements: “Special thanks to Universal Studios Tour and the Universal Amphitheatre” and “The Grammy is a registered service mark, and used by permission of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1980.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1980.
---
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 1980.
---
International Photographer
Aug 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Feb 1981
p. 5.
New York Times
6 Mar 1981
p. 5.
Variety
10 Oct 1979.
---
Variety
11 Feb 1981
p. 20.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Sally K. Marr
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Walt Disney Productions Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost des
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd supv
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Matte artist
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Hairstylist
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Roses And Rainbows," music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sage
"Any Fool Could See," music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Allee Willis.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Miracle Max
Release Date:
11 February 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 11 February 1981
New York opening: 6 March 1981
Production Date:
14 April--June 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
23 October 1981
Copyright Number:
PA118007
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone Sound Recording
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26179
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The tenants in Max Devlin’s apartment building have long lists of grievances that he ignores, but when a tenant is late paying rent, Max chases him until a blind woman asks Max to help her. He refuses, trips over her cane and falls under a bus. Max’s soul descends to hell and is greeted by Barney Satin, Souls Manager of the Devil’s Council. Barney condemns him to level four of hell, but offers to restore Max to life for two months, during which time he must sign three innocent souls to take his place, including a young boy named Toby. Max hesitates, but Barney reminds him that level four awaits, and he finally agrees to the pact. Back on earth, Max’s soul returns to his body. He gets a cup of coffee at a diner and believes it was a dream until Barney appears. The other customers cannot see Barney and think Max is talking to himself. As Max pays his bill, he does not see himself in the mirror and Barney reveals that inhabitants of hell do not cast a reflection, and demands signed contracts from the three innocents by midnight on May fifteenth. He explains that Max can transport himself via thought, and will have magic powers with his targets as long as they remain in his direct sight. Max questions what will happen to these people, and Barney promises to collect their souls at the end of their natural lives. At a nightclub, Stella Summers awaits her turn onstage, and notices Jerry Nadler, a record company executive, in the audience. Max appears, claims ... +


The tenants in Max Devlin’s apartment building have long lists of grievances that he ignores, but when a tenant is late paying rent, Max chases him until a blind woman asks Max to help her. He refuses, trips over her cane and falls under a bus. Max’s soul descends to hell and is greeted by Barney Satin, Souls Manager of the Devil’s Council. Barney condemns him to level four of hell, but offers to restore Max to life for two months, during which time he must sign three innocent souls to take his place, including a young boy named Toby. Max hesitates, but Barney reminds him that level four awaits, and he finally agrees to the pact. Back on earth, Max’s soul returns to his body. He gets a cup of coffee at a diner and believes it was a dream until Barney appears. The other customers cannot see Barney and think Max is talking to himself. As Max pays his bill, he does not see himself in the mirror and Barney reveals that inhabitants of hell do not cast a reflection, and demands signed contracts from the three innocents by midnight on May fifteenth. He explains that Max can transport himself via thought, and will have magic powers with his targets as long as they remain in his direct sight. Max questions what will happen to these people, and Barney promises to collect their souls at the end of their natural lives. At a nightclub, Stella Summers awaits her turn onstage, and notices Jerry Nadler, a record company executive, in the audience. Max appears, claims he is good luck and guarantees Stella’s success. Onstage, her voice falters until Max focuses his thoughts on her and she becomes an amazing singer. Jerry wants to record a demo song and Stella asks to bring Max for luck. Next, Max transports himself to Nelson Nordlinger’s room and discovers the teen’s interest in motocross racing. The next morning at school, Nelson asks classmates if he can join them at motocross, but they refuse. Max, driving a car advertising “Max’s Mobile Motocross School,” offers to train Nelson and they head for the desert. Although Nelson is nervous, Max encourages him and Nelson speeds off on his motorcycle. As Nelson rides up a hill, Barney appears to remind Max that the magic only works if the subject is within his sight, and Max runs after Nelson. Another biker, Big Billy Hunniker, sees Nelson ride and, although the teen falls on the other side of the hill, Billy offers to race him someday. Max catches up with Nelson and orders him to stay within his sight at all times. Later, at a carnival, Toby Hart is denied entrance because children under twelve are not permitted without an adult. Max appears, pretends to be Toby’s Uncle, and purchases tickets. As they try every ride, Max asks what Toby desires most, and learns that the boy’s father is dead and he wants Max to take his place. Toby brings Max to meet his mother, Penny, who runs a daycare center. Leaving Max outside with the children, Penny admonishes Toby to stop bringing potential suitors home. Outside, the children love “Uncle Max”; however, realizing he is late for Stella’s recording session, Max disappears before Penny and Toby return to the yard. In the studio, Jerry wants to quit after forty-two disastrous attempts, but Max appears, convinces them to try again and, suddenly, Stella’s voice is perfect. Her album is released and she becomes a star, with her manager, Max, receiving twenty percent of her earnings. At a party, Max asks about her parents and Stella claims to be from Topanga, California, with free-thinking parents, unlike her friends’ strict parents. Max asks Stella to sign the contract to sell her soul, but she thinks he is kidding. At a motocross meet, Nelson’s classmates are surprised that Max enters the teen in the “expert” category. Max stands atop a trailer to keep Nelson in his line of sight and, when the teen wins over the favorite, Big Billy Hunniker, classmates change his nickname from “Nerd” to “Nerve.” Max appears at a tennis court as Penny takes a lesson and Toby worries that his mother will marry the boring tennis instructor. While Toby keeps Penny away from home, Max supervises installation of new playground equipment in their yard. Penny is surprised and agrees to a dinner date. The next day, they take Toby and the daycare children to the beach, and that evening, as Toby pretends to sleep, Max and Penny kiss. During the next month, Barney pressures Max about getting the contracts signed as Max magically transports between Stella’s concert tour, Nelson’s motocross races, and dates with Penny and Toby. Stella insists they do not need a written agreement. Nelson agrees to sign, but notices what he assumes is an error, pointing out that “sole” is misspelled as “soul” and wants it corrected. As Max works to fulfill Toby’s desire, he asks what the child will give him in return for being his father. Max writes a contract with “soul” hidden in the list of Toby’s promises, but the boy refuses to sign until Max marries his mother. Meanwhile, despite her success, Stella is lonely. She admits that her real name is Stephanie Pepper and she is from Brooklyn, New York. Her parents did not support her dreams and, although she realizes they were trying to spare her feelings, she always felt she could make it. Max insists he is responsible for her success, and she agrees. Barney thinks it is the perfect time to get her signature, but Max holds back. Later, Toby is dismayed that Max is always gone, and wants to cancel their deal, but Penny accepts Max’s proposal. To fulfill his agreement with Barney, Max plans to marry Penny between Nelson’s motocross race and Stella’s concert on the fifteenth of May, but is unhappy about the situation. Despite his qualms, Max disguises himself, hides among autograph seekers and holds out Stella’s contract for her signature. The moment she signs, Stella feels strange and, upon accepting her Grammy Award, she becomes uncharacteristically rude. At the motocross race, Max pretends Nelson’s contract is an insurance document, and promises to change the soul “misspelling.” He obtains Nelson’s signature and the teen’s happy demeanor changes. Max weds Penny, then acquires Toby’s signature. Toby sours toward Max, but his mother believes it is due to jealousy. Barney congratulates Max on his freedom, then admits to lying, and reveals he is collecting the three souls at midnight. When Max revolts, Barney threatens eternal damnation, but Max burns the contracts anyway. He rushes to the motocross race and learns Nelson was injured prior to the race when he tripped over an old lady’s cane. Max finds the woman and discovers she is an angel sent to save Nelson. Later, in Stella’s dressing room, she thanks Max for inviting her parents to the show. He asks her to cancel the concert, but she refuses to let him take away her confidence. At home, Max informs Toby and Penny that he must leave at midnight, and they will be better off without him. However, when Penny insists she loves him, Max sees his reflection in the mirror and realizes he has won. When he made the right choice concerning the contracts, the devil lost Max’s soul. They go to the concert hall where Stella sings perfectly, Nelson sits with his new girlfriend, and Max thanks heaven. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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