Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

aka - Devils Of Loudon, The
United Kingdom 1971
Directed by
Ken Russell
109 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Devils

With decadent royals, sexually-deranged nuns, a womanizing priest and plague a-raging,  Ken Russell was in clover with this adaptation of Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun and of the 1961 play by John Whiting based on it. Oliver Reed plays Father Urban Grandier, an upstart priest of the town of Loudon, a French Protestant stronghold, who incurs the wrath of Cardinal Richelieu, a Catholic looking to break the resistance of the Hugenots and their defenders.  Richelieu entraps Grandier, who is denounced by Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave) a hunch-backed nun, who, of course has the hots for him. Richelieu’s agent Baron de Laubardemont (Dudley Sutton) with the help of exorcist Father Barre (Michael Gothard) and turncoat Father Mignon (Murray Melvin) proceeds to bring Grandier and Loudon down.

All this sounds like there might be a decent story to be had but really there's little to the film other than a lot of writhing and wailing somewhat like a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life. Which means that whilst The Devils always looks good (the sets by future director Derek Jarman are outstanding), dramatically it’s a two-dimensional affair.

Redgrave is simply excruciating as the sex-crazed Mother Superior however Sutton and Melvin are perfectly suited for this kind of campy material. All this would count for little however were it not for Reed’s performance, the actor single-handedly grounding Russell’s penchant for excess, the film actually being quite credible when he is onscreen and completely not so when he isn't.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst