Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Devil’s Partner (1960)

Poster for Devil's Partner (1960)Devil’s Partner (1960) by #CharlesRRondeau
#EdgarBuchanan #JeanAllison #RichardCrane

A vengeful old hermit sells his soul to the devil & turns into a young man.

“Half man, half beast–he sold his soul for passion!”

“Doesn’t make sense, a hunk of beef killing a man like Doctor Marx.”


I don’t recall seeing a lot of movies about Satanism, or making deals with the devil, when I was a young lad. So, I’m pretty sure I never saw Devil’s Partner (1960) on Not Quite Classic Theatre. The back of the DVD describes the plot like this: “”An old hermit makes a pact with the Devil and, in exchange for his obedience, is given restored youth and vitality. He returns to his hometown, after assuming the identity of his own nephew, and takes up residence in his former home.”

Well, if I hadn’t read that ahead of time, I would have had a lot more trouble understanding this movie. We see an old man die at the beginning. And then we see a young man, his nephew, appear in town looking for him. It takes the movie quite a while to reveal to us that they are in fact the same person. That’s okay. In fact, it might have been better not to blow that twist ahead of time (thanks DVD box). But there are a few other details that only make sense once you realize what’s really going on.

The young nephew meets a young woman (daughter of the town doctor) and takes an interest in her. And she seems to like him, too. But it turns out that she’s practically engaged to another man, the town mechanic. Bad things start to happen to the mechanic. Things that might only be explained by black magic. And one can’t help but start to think that this young newcomer (the nephew of the dead old man), might somehow be behind it.

The young woman, Nell Lucas played by Jean Allison, mentions at some point that the old man would let her come to his place and collect some goat’s milk whenever she wanted to. It doesn’t seem like a very big deal when she says it, but later I started to put it together like this:

The old man was attracted to Nell. He liked seeing her whenever she came by to get the goat’s milk. He wanted her, but he knew he was too old to compete with the young, handsome mechanic. So, he turned to Satanism and made himself young again.

This is just my theory as to what’s going on in Devil’s Partner (1960). Unless I nodded off and missed something (which is, sadly, not entirely impossible), the movie never explicitly told me that this was the story. It just came to me. I think the movie might have been stronger if it started with a scene between the old man and Nell. Maybe let us see him admiring her, longing for her – hatching his evil plan. But instead it just starts with the old man sacrificing a goat and dying. No explanations for this are given. 

I’m not saying that the movie had to make everything explicitly clear to us. But I think that letting us see the old man interacting with the young, beautiful Nell would have made everything so much clearer and more logical to us in the long run. But maybe I slept through the part where the movie brilliantly and efficiently did this in some other way.

In any case, Devil’s Partner (1960) is a moderately engaging movie, and a slightly offbeat example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. It’s not often that I come across an old black and white B-movie about Satanism. There were a few, of course, but stories about Satanic cults and deals with the devil became much more common in the 1970s, perhaps inspired by the masterful Rosemary’s Baby in 1968. So in a way, Devil’s Partner (1960) is anticipating where the horror genre will be going in the future – and that’s kind of cool. It may not be the best example of Satanic horror, or as much fun as a movie about a giant spider or lizard, but it’s a decent enough way to pass seventy odd minutes on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.