On this day in 1981, Buena Vista Pictures released the Disney comedy The Devil and Max Devlin, starring Elliott Gould and Bill Cosby.
Controversial at the time of its release (due to the subject matter and Cosby portraying Satan), The Devil and Max Devlin was also the first Disney film to contain swearing. It was one of the films of the early 1980s that would later influence the creation of Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures (in order for Disney to make films for mature audiences).
Gould played Max Devlin, a shady California landlord who gets killed by a bus and is sent to hell (which appropriately was presented as a corporate business). Devlin meets the Devil's chief henchman Barney Satin (pronounced "Satan") played by funny-man Bill Cosby. Devlin is given a chance to save himself by convincing three other people (a teenage nerd, a young boy and an aspiring singer) to sell their souls in exchange. Devlin returns to Earth (with special powers) and begins his frantic quest. The rest of the film follows a pretty standard and engaging path of redemption for Devlin and his 3 friends. In the end Devlin burns his contract with Satin - setting himself free from the clutches of hell.
Interesting to note ... the film was produced by Jerome Courtland. Fans of the Disneyland mini-series "The Saga of Andy Burnett" (which aired 1957-1958) will remember Courtland as Andy!
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