Shake Hands With The Devil In 1921 Dublin, the I.R.A. battles the “Black & Tans”, special British forces given to harsh measures. Irish-American medical student Kerry O’Shea (Don Murray) hopes to stay aloof, but saving a wounded friend gets him outlawed, and inexorably drawn into the rebel organization under his former professor Dr. Sean Lenihan (James Cagney), who has “shaken hands with the devil” and begun to think of fighting as an end in itself. Complications arise when Kerry falls for a beautiful English hostage, and the British offer a peace treaty that is not enough to satisfy Lenihan.
Shake Hands With The Devil This movie is one of the older classics that doesn’t get much play any more. It is a thought provoking piece, full of vivid characters, and told in an almost non stop action adventure way to make it super entertaining, even for the most impatient viewer. The movie centers on the Irish rebellion, with the reluctant hero, Don Murray, forced into the fray against the terrible Black and Tans. More historically accurate on the background scale than people want to admit. Cagney plays the “commadant” of several squads, who is a very hard liner in the IRA, totally against all compromise with the British authorities. The other characters are vividly expressed by the acting, writing, and directing. There is no weak spot in this film. The attitudes and reactions of each character to the evils by each, Cagney and the leader of the Black and Tans, makes this a remarkable film. Noonan, Cassidy, and also their British counterparts are portrayed as realistically dealing with the bloodshed caused by extremists. Innocent captives are taken by both sides, one a proper older lady jailed by the British, and the other a gorgeous knockout of a lady (Dana Wynter, who alone is worth watching the film for by a guy’s standpoint, as there are absolutely no women in today’s films as physically attractive as she is), a blue blood captured by the IRA, whom Murray swears to protect from harm. One thing that makes this movie so believable, is that the characters don’t automatically assume and know everything that goes on. If the movie was made today, it would probably have such a flaw. This movie is ever so credible, particularly from a character standpoint. You feel the pain and torment of each individual. The movie is so relevant today, and it would be of great value to have it released in countries and lands where there is tumult. If every American should see “Jungle Fighters”, “Southern Comfort,” and “Ox Bow Incident”, to show the dangers of judging others, then this movie should be seen by every Iraqi (and probably everybody) to see just how horrible terror tactics are, and the need for peaceful resolution to problems.