Poor Devil (1973)
If this feels like a television show of some long forgotten series you’re not far too far off. It’s a failed series pilot that played as a 73 minute movie of the week in a ninety minute slot allowing for commercials,.
What we really have here is a variation on the film Bedazzled which starred Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. This time we get Sammy Davis Jr. as Sammy a minion of Lucifer whose job is to get Jack Klugman’s name on a seven year contract that surrenders his soul at the contract’s termination. Sounds simple enough but Sammy is far too mild for the job and according to some of his brethren below belongs “up there” in reference to heaven.
Klugman of Odd Couple fame is a twenty-five year veteran in the accounting division of a large department store that is run by Adam West. He’s tired of waiting for a promotion and kissing West’s rear end. “I’d sell my soul to get even.” The next thing he knows he has Sammy the salesman trying to enlist him in the Devil’s legion.
The real highlight here is the actor portraying Lucifer. It’s none other than Christopher Lee. He’s perfect for the role of a desk bound dictator where everything surrounding him is either outright red or close to it. Lee’s baritone voice has his minions on edge and Sammy’s toothpick legs and knees a knocking. While Lee has an incredible amount of credits to his name the early seventies was an era where he turned up in everything from Hammer titles, a Billy Wilder film to Bond and this ABC movie of the week. For trivia buffs he had actually made a cameo appearance as Dracula in the Sammy Davis – Peter Lawford comedy One More Time in 1969.
I for one have always like Sammy Davis Jr. His energy while performing is amazing and it’s too bad the script didn’t allow him to give us a song and dance number as it would have fit into the narrative with little trouble.
This series pilot was directed by long time veteran of series television Robert Scheerer. He was employed on what seems like a list of every show I can recall from the years when my parents controlled our viewing selections for the night. The Love Boat, Kolchak and Matlock to name just a few. I do recall seeing this years ago in rerun but as is the case with most made for tv films it’s all but disappeared.
So while this one’s pretty rare I was happy to recently snag a copy and can now mark it off my list of Lee films to acquire.