Theatre / The Devil's Disciple

A comic play by George Bernard Shaw set during The American Revolution, which tells of the title character, Richard Dudgeon, and his opposite, the Rev. Anthony Anderson, and the events which follow when British soldiers come to arrest Anderson for treason and Dudgeon takes his place. A further element is how Anderson's wife, Judith, rapidly goes from loathing Dudgeon to falling in love with him. Adapted into a movie several times; most notably in 1959, starring Kirk Douglas as Richard Dudgeon, Burt Lancaster as Anthony Anderson, and Laurence Olivier as General Burgoyne.

Provides examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: General Burgoyne is the perfect gentleman, and obviously respects Dudgeon.
  • Easy Evangelism: Dudgeon is able to bring Judith and Anthony Anderson around to his viewpoint in record time.
  • Grand Inquisitor Scene: Gen. Burgoyne doesn't want to hang Dudgeon, but it's his duty.
  • Honor Before Reason: Dudgeon switches places with Anderson to save him from being arrested by the British. Upon learning this, Anderson promptly sets out to return the favor (instead of using the chance to run for his life).
  • Hourglass Plot: Dudgeon and Anderson switch places to a great extent over the course of the play, and Anderson even wants to further this by giving his wife to Dudgeon and demanding that Dudgeon join the clergy.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Subverted in the film version. After eating a bowl of soup, General Burgoyne asks one of his men what was in it. Clearly expecting this reaction, the soldier admits that it was rattlesnake. General Burgoyne doesn't even miss a beat before pronouncing it delicious.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Anthony tries to do the noble thing and let Judith go off with Richard, but Richard knows the Andersons belong together, and in the end Anthony and Judith ride away.
  • Just Following Orders: The attitude of most of the British officers, especially when they're hanging Dudgeon.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Rev. Parshotter is a Loyalist who tells the colonists to do as they're told.
  • Love Triangle: One develops pretty rapidly between Anthony, Judith, and Richard.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Richard is the only person in his family who is kind to the family servant Essie. He comes across as better than the Andersons, who, while nicer to Essie, are also highly patronizing.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: A British officer breaks a chair over Anthony's back. Anthony gives him a surprised look. The officer punches Anthony in the face. Another look. Another punch, another look. Cue a look of utter terror from the officer, before Anthony punches him across the room.
  • Stop Motion: Used with puppets to provide some exposition over scene transitions.
  • Title Drop: Richard calls himself "the devil's disciple".
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Played With by the closing narration.
    Dick Dudgeon: The rest of this story is pure fiction. Rest assured, you can believe every word of it.