"I'm a big baby doll" says Betty Lawford (Agnes) in one of the funniest lines in the movie. Another contender comes from Lawrence Tierney (Steve) who comments about a baby girl's ears. These two characters are the standout in the cast with Tierney running the show as a bad-guy who is being hunted by the police. He manipulates his way through the film and convinces as the tough guy that he really was in real life as well. As for Lawford, despite her strange intonation, she also does well as a lady who's slightly edgy.
Apart from the two cast members mentioned, the others don't fare so well with Ted North (Fergie) being the worst. There are unnecessary comedy characters that just don't belong in this film and I'm afraid to say that North is just hugely annoying and even gets a super-cheesy end sequence. The ending isn't well executed as, all of a sudden, it's over. Oh, that was convenient!
This film could have been better if it was expanded and the lead good guy was replaced. He ruins the film and whilst Tierney is very good, he ultimately can't rescue the whole experience. The moral of this film is to get yourself hitch-hiking if you want some stories to tell. One of mine involves hitching on a tractor somewhere in the south of Portugal with a guy that spoke no English and my friend and I had no idea where we were going. Didn't involve murder, though: that's another story with a biker nutter going to Warrington. He was terrifying.
I love the real-life references in this review, reminding us that the type of situation depicted in DEVIL, though clearly over the top, is still something that happens in real life.
After just robbing a San Diego theatre and killing the manager, Steve Morgan (Tierney) hitches a ride to Los Angeles with Jimmy Ferguson (North), a trusting young salesman. After a stop at a gas station, the two men pick up a couple of dames looking for a ride, and soon Morgan is manipulating everyone so as to stay ahead of the cops looking for him.
Compact at just over an hour in length,
Still, once the four of them reach a beach house belonging to a friend of Ferguson, the picture gathers a pace and the drama explodes to reveal its bloody denouement. Good noirish characters and Tierney on form ensure it's never less than entertaining, though the weakness of the writing asks a lot of the audience.
Good as Tierney is here, my money is still on BORN TO KILL, where what another reviewer so cogently identifies as "the horrifying dissolution of identity and self" is more fully on display, along with the matchless psychological perversity of Claire Trevor.
The other Tierney performance that shows some additional range can be seen in FEMALE JUNGLE, where his alcoholic cop winds up in a series of strange and dangerous situations due to his pursuit of the very vices he's supposed to be quashing.
The IMDB Trivia listings on Tierney's page contain several fascinating and harrowing details concerning the collision of his on-screen image with real life.