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Shout at the Devil (film)

Shout at the Devil
Original British cinema poster
Directed by Peter R. Hunt
Produced by Michael Klinger
Screenplay by Stanley Price
Alastair Reid
Based on Shout at the Devil 
by Wilbur Smith
Starring Lee Marvin
Roger Moore
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Michael Reed
Edited by Michael J. Duthie
Tonav Productions
Distributed by Hemdale (UK)
Release dates
  • 13 April 1976 (1976-04-13) (UK)
  • 24 November 1976 (1976-11-24) (US)
Running time
147 minutes (UK)
128 minutes (US)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $9,000,000[1]

Shout at the Devil is a 1976 British war adventure film directed by Peter R. Hunt[2] and starring Lee Marvin and Roger Moore. The film, set in Zanzibar and German East Africa in 1913–1915, is based on a novel by Wilbur Smith which is very loosely inspired by real events (see the sinking of the SMS Königsberg).[3] The supporting cast features Barbara Parkins and Ian Holm.


Colonel Flynn O'Flynn (Lee Marvin), a hard-drinking American, manipulates British aristocrat Sebastian Oldsmith (Roger Moore) into helping poach ivory in Tanganyika, which is part of the German-controlled pre-World War I territory of German East Africa. On hearing news that the American has returned, Herman Fleischer, the local German Commander of the Southern Provinces, relentlessly hunts O'Flynn with his Schutztruppen.

Later Sebastian meets and falls in love with O'Flynn's daughter, Rosa (Barbara Parkins). They are married and have a daughter together. Meanwhile the poaching continues. Fleischer has a warship ram and sink O'Flynn's Arab dhow (ship) containing poached ivory. But whilst attacking O'Flynn's home, Schutztruppe under Fleischer's command kill Sebastian's daughter Maria.

O'Flynn and Sebastian decide to go and kill Fleischer as revenge for the death of the little girl. But when it is discovered that Britain is at war with Germany, allied officers convince O'Flynn to locate and destroy the German warship awaiting repair.

O'Flynn, Sebastian, and Rosa pursue Fleischer, who also happens to be on the warship. Eventually they find her in an inlet and sink her.


Original novel

Shout at the Devil
File:Shout at the Devil - bookcover.jpg
Paperback edition
Author Wilbur Smith
Country South Africa
Language English
Genre War
Publisher Heinemann
Publication date

The script was based on a novel by Wilbur Smith.[4][5] The critic from the New York Times called the book "a bloodbath".[6]

Film rights were bought by Michael Klinger. It was announced in 1969 that the movie version would be made by Cinerama Inc but it took a number of years for the adaptation to be financed.[7]



Smith worked on the script with Stanley Price, who also helped adapt Smith's novel Gold Mine for Michael Klinger.[8] However, the film ending was changed; in the novel all three main characters die.


The film's budget has been reported as $9–10 million. Klinger says $3.5 million was provided by AIP.[9] The film was shot on location in Malta and - controversially due to the then apartheid regime - in South Africa.


The music was composed by Maurice Jarre


Critic Richard Eder did not like the film much. He wrote, "The movie has too much plot. All that action, conducted by characters without character—except for Fleischer, whose childlike joy in hurting people is almost appealing—produces lethargy...the movie is a passable midget in absurdly long pants."[10]

PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III wrote "Shout at the Devil can be every bit as farcical as any of Roger Moore’s James Bond films, and Lee Marvin’s characterization of O’Flynn is every bit as absurdly fun as anything he did in Cat Ballou or Paint Your Wagon, but at the flip of an invisible switch both Shout at the Devil and its stars take a turn for the incredibly dark."[2]

Film critic Roger Ebert thought that "Shout at the Devil is a big, dumb, silly movie that's impossible to dislike. It's so cheerfully corny, so willing to involve its heroes in every possible predicament, that after a while we relax: This is the kind of movie they used to make, back when audiences were supposed to have the mentality of a 12-year-old. It's great to be 12 again."[11]

Historical accuracy

The book which the film is based on is vaguely based on real events, and takes significant artistic licence with historical facts. The main story is loosely based on events concerning the light cruiser SMS Königsberg, which was sunk after taking refuge in Rufiji Delta in 1915.[3] However, the German ship is renamed the Blücher, a vessel which did not serve in Africa. The film implies that Portugal became a co-belligerent with Britain against Germany when the First World War broke out in August 1914. In fact, Portugal remained neutral until 1916 (see Portugal in World War I). Portugal's status as an ally seems to be confirmed in the film when the Portuguese supply O'Flynn and Oldsmith with a marked Portuguese plane with a Portuguese pilot to conduct surveillance in German territory. In reality, the Portuguese would not have allowed this as it would have violated their neutrality.

Although the motives for killing Fleischer are personal, Sebastian Oldsmith is in fact the only major character who is a citizen of a nation actually at war with Germany.


  1. ^ Tempo Entertainment: AIP shooting for respectability Vernon, Scott. Chicago Tribune (1963–present file) [Chicago, Ill] 2 December 1976: a5.
  2. ^ a b Maçek III, J.C. (7 October 2013). "From Heart of Darkness to All Out War: 'Shout at the Devil'". PopMatters. 
  3. ^ a b Smith, Wilbur (2006). Shout at the Devil. St. Martin's Press. p. Forward. ISBN 978-0-312-94063-8. 
  4. ^ Shout at the Devil at Wilbur Smith's website
  5. ^ Shout at the Devil at Pan MacMillan
  6. ^ Review 15 – No Title New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 July 1968: 268.
  7. ^ Robert Moore Will Star in 'Junie Moon' By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 Apr 1969: 54.
  8. ^ News of the Screen: Radnitz Making Schoolboy Story 6 Composers' Lives Subjects of Films Newman to Study Pershing Career 'Gold' Team Sets New Adventure By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923–Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Oct 1974: 65.
  9. ^ After 'Network,' What? Science Lee, Grant. Los Angeles Times (1923–Current file) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Oct 1976: b7
  10. ^ Eder, Richard (25 November 1976), "Shout Whispers on Screen", The New York Times 
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (11 November 1976), "Shout at the Devil", Chicago Sun-Times 

External links