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Shake Hands with the Devil

Director: Michael Anderson

U.S.A.-Ireland| 1959. Black and white. 111 min.


Even in the late 1950s, Ireland’s War of Independence was still a recent enough memory to be regarded as a controversial subject for filmmakers. Many of those involved were still alive, some in positions of prominence, and films about the turbulent early 1920s usually steered clear of facts to focus on fictitious characters of minor importance at the time. Michael Anderson’s raw 1959 drama Shake Hands
with the Devil showed some daring in presenting several protagonists that bear resemblance to actual leaders in the war. The film deals with the split caused by the treaty with Britain and its main characters played by James Cagney, Michael Redgrave and Sybil Thorndike are a little too close for comfort to Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins and Count Markievicz in an otherwise fictional plot.

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