4 Devils

4 Devils (also known as Four Devils) is a 1928 American silent drama film directed by German director F. W. Murnau and starring Janet Gaynor.[1][2] It is considered to be lost.

4 Devils
Janet Gaynor and Charles Morton
Directed byF. W. Murnau
Produced byWilliam Fox
Written byCarl Mayer
Based on"Les Quatre Diables"
by Herman Bang
StarringJanet Gaynor
Charles Morton
Mary Duncan
Barry Norton
Music byErnö Rapée
Lew Pollack
CinematographyL. William O'Connell
Ernest Palmer
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release date
  • October 3, 1928 (1928-10-03) (original version)
  • June 15, 1929 (1929-06-15) (sound re-release)
Running time
100 minutes (Sound version)
97 minutes (Silent version)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles


The plot concerns four orphans (Janet Gaynor, Nancy Drexel, Barry Norton, and Charles Morton) who become a high wire act, and centers around sinister goings-on at a circus.



4 Devils was released by Fox Film Corporation, and was produced by William Fox, who had hired Murnau to come to the United States. It was initially released as a silent with a synchronised music score and sound effects in October 1928 [3], and grossed $100,000 in New York City, but because of the talkie picture craze, Fox pulled it from distribution and ordered sound to be added.[4] A 25% sound version, incorporating "synchronised sound effects, music and dialogue sequences", was made without Murnau's cooperation.[5]

Preservation status

No copies of either version of the film are known to exist, and 4 Devils remains among the most sought after lost films of the silent era. Details of the movie can be found on the DVD for Sunrise,[5] released by Fox as part of their 20th Century Fox Studio Classics collection.

Film historian and collector William K. Everson stated that the only surviving print was lost by actress Mary Duncan who had borrowed it from Fox Studios.[6] Martin Koerber, curator of Deutsche Kinemathek, is more hopeful, writing that the print was given to Duncan, and that her heirs, if any, may yet have it.[5]

Other adaptations

The novel by Herman Bang was first adapted into film in 1911[7] by Robert Dinesen and Alfred Lind, and finally in 1985 by Anders Refn.


  1. The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog: Four Devils
  2. Four Devils at TheGreatStars.com; Lost Films Wanted(Wayback Machine)
  3. "4 Devils". SilentEra.com. May 21, 2012.
  4. Eyman, Scott. The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926-1930. Simon and Schuster, New York: 1997.
  5. "Lost Films: 4 Devils". Deutsche Kinemathek. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  6. "4 Devils". silentera.com.
  7. "DE FIRE DJÆVLE". Danish Film institute.
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