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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

4 Devils
4 Devils (1928) poster.jpg
Directed byF. W. Murnau
Written byCarl Mayer
Based on"Les Quatre Diables"
by Herman Bang
Produced byWilliam Fox
StarringJanet Gaynor
Charles Morton
Mary Duncan
Barry Norton
CinematographyL. William O'Connell
Ernest Palmer
Music byErnö Rapée
Lew Pollack
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release dates
  • October 3, 1928 (1928-10-03) (original version)
  • June 15, 1929 (1929-06-15) (sound re-release)
Running time
100 minutes (Sound version)
97 minutes (Silent version)
CountryUnited States
LanguagesSilent film
English intertitles
4 Devils ad in The Film Daily, 1929
4 Devils ad in The Film Daily, 1929

4 Devils (also known as Four Devils) is a 1928 American silent drama film directed by German director F. W. Murnau and starring Janet Gaynor.[1][2] It is considered to be lost.


The plot concerns four orphans (Janet Gaynor, Nancy Drexel, Barry Norton, and Charles Morton) who become a high wire act, and centers around sinister goings-on at a circus. An old clown takes in the four children Charles, Adolf, Marion and Louise to protect them from the brutal circus owner who is their guardian. He raises them and trains them to become acrobats. The years pass and the four children soon become successful trapeze artists who call themselves the "Four Devils". Charles and Marion are now a couple. But when they perform at Cirque Olympia in Paris, Charles gets involved with a beautiful stranger. Marion learns about the relationship and is distracted by it. At the finale of her performance, in which she works without a net, she crashes. Marion survives, and Charles, touched by the near-catastrophe, returns to his girlfriend.



4 Devils was released by Fox Film Corporation and was produced by William Fox, who had hired Murnau to come to the United States. It was initially released as a silent with a synchronised music score and sound effects in October 1928,[3] and grossed $100,000 in New York City, but because of the talkie picture craze, Fox pulled it from distribution and ordered sound to be added.[4] A 25% sound version, incorporating "synchronised sound effects, music and dialogue sequences", was made without Murnau's cooperation.[5]

Preservation status

No copies of either version of the film are known to exist, and 4 Devils remains among the most sought after lost films of the silent era. Details of the movie can be found on the DVD for Sunrise,[5] released by Fox as part of their 20th Century Fox Studio Classics collection.

Janet Gaynor and Charles Morton
Janet Gaynor and Charles Morton

Film historian and collector William K. Everson stated that the only surviving print was lost by actress Mary Duncan, who had borrowed it from Fox Studios.[6] Martin Koerber, curator of Deutsche Kinemathek, is more hopeful, writing that the print was given to Duncan, and that her heirs, if any, may yet have it.[5]

Other adaptations

The source novella by Herman Bang was first adapted into film in 1911[7] by Robert Dinesen and Alfred Lind, and finally in 1985 by Anders Refn. The screenplay for the 1928 film was novelized by Guy Fowler and published that year by Grosset and Dunlap as a hardcover Photoplay (movie tie-in) Edition.


  1. ^ The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog: Four Devils
  2. ^ Four Devils at; Lost Films Wanted(Wayback Machine)
  3. ^ "4 Devils". May 21, 2012.
  4. ^ Eyman, Scott. The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926-1930. Simon and Schuster, New York: 1997.
  5. ^ a b c "Lost Films: 4 Devils". Deutsche Kinemathek. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  6. ^ "4 Devils".
  7. ^ "DE FIRE DJÆVLE". Danish Film institute.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 March 2023, at 05:07
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