The Devil to Pay!
Directed byGeorge Fitzmaurice
Screenplay byFrederick Lonsdale
Benjamin Glazer
Produced bySamuel Goldwyn
StarringRonald Colman
Loretta Young
CinematographyGeorge Barnes
Gregg Toland
Edited byGrant Whytock
Music byAlfred Newman
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • December 18, 1930 (1930-12-18)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Devil to Pay! is a 1930 American pre-Code romantic drama film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Ronald Colman, Frederick Kerr, Myrna Loy and Loretta Young. It was written by Frederick Lonsdale and Benjamin Glazer.


After selling his house and belongings in East Africa, Willie Hale returns home to England, where he buys a dog with most of his remaining money. Lord Leeland, his wealthy father, is frustrated with Willie's many failed ventures but gives him £100 in spending money.

After seeing his old girlfriend, theatre star Mary Crayle, Willie meets family friend and heiress Dorothy Hope. He takes Dorothy and his sister Susan to the Derby, where he wins a great deal of money on a 50-to-1 longshot. Dorothy then breaks her engagement to Grand Duke Paul because she finds the bankrupt Willie far more charming.

Willie is reluctant to become romantically involved with Dorothy, but when her father insists that he will disinherit her if she marries Willie, he proposes to her. She accepts, but only if he will promise to never see Mary again. Willie is unable to deliver the news to Mary by letter or telephone, so he waits for her outside the theater. At her home, he is finally able to tell her about his engagement.

Mr. Hope hires a detective agency to watch Willie. He has Dorothy call Mary on the telephone, and when Willie answers, Dorothy is heartbroken. When Willie tries to explain, Dorothy pays him £5,000, assuming that he had been merely seeking her inheritance. She is astonished when he leaves with the check, whistling. However, Willie does not intend to keep the money. After he hears that Paul is destitute, he sends the money to him under Dorothy's name. Paul sends a note to Dorothy to thank her, which delights Dorothy and disillusions her father. Dorothy and Willie reconcile before he sails for New Zealand to start a sheep farm. Dorothy's father offers to buy Willie a farm in England, and Lord Leeland is happy to hear that it will be Mr. Hope whose money will be lost if Willie fails in yet another business venture.



Samuel Goldwyn recruited playwright Frederick Lonsdale to write a story after meeting him on a visit to London.[1] Goldwyn considered the film an ideal vehicle for Colman to follow his success in his previous film, Bulldog Drummond (1929). Constance Cummings was originally cast in the female lead but was replaced because her American accent was too strong for the British setting. Goldwyn also replaced original director Irving Cummings after two weeks because he was unhappy with the standard of production.[2]


  1. ^ Berg, p. 193
  2. ^ Berg p.193-194