The third and final film in the Oh, God! series actually takes a new approach. Oh, God! You Devil focuses on one soul’s salvation, rather than God giving a guy a mission, this one is about a tug of war over one man’s soul between God and the devil. And it has a gimmick. George Burns plays both God and Devil.
The film opens in the past, as a father prays desperately over his ill son. Then the film picks up to where we meet that child, Bobby Shelton all grown up (Played by Ted Wass-the dad from Blossom). He is a married and struggling musician. His agent cannot do much better than get him wedding gigs.
Meanwhile, we meet the devil. Apparently, the Devil goes by the name Harry O. Tophet (apparently, Tophet is Hebrew for hell). And we know he is the devil because he thinks hurricanes are nice weather and his eyes glow red. The devil is seeking a soul to devour.
We are quickly introduced to a rock star named Billy Wayne (Robert Desidario) who is on tour… He seems desperate and is chatting with a familiar voice-the devil. Apparently, his contract is up and the devil is collecting. In a puff of smoke, Billy Wayne is gone.
Bobby, frustrated by the music business declares he would sell his soul to the devil. While performing at a wedding, Bobby is approached by Tophet. Tophet says he wants to represent Bobby. Bobby is somewhat reluctant, until Tophet shows up at a record meeting. He convinces Bobby to dump his manager (Eugene Roche) and take Tophet into the meeting with the two executives.
The executives read Tophet’s contract, laughing all the way-until Bobby signs the contract. Then everything changes. In a whirlwind, he is signed and on tour. He has fame and riches-as Billy Wayne. But then Bobby gets a shock. He calls his wife Wendy (Roxanne Hart)-only to discover that she believes her husband is home with her. The previous Billy Wayne has taken Bobby’s place in his life.
Bobby soon figures out that he has made a deal with the devil. Tophet tries to discourage Bobby from seeking outside help. Bobby ends up in Vegas attempting to find God. After some prayer God calls Bobby (by phone).
The film culminates in a high stakes poker game between God and Tophet.
Without a doubt, I found this film to be an improvement over the second one. It does not rehash the previous films and finds a different way to resolution. It works in the film’s favor to not make it yet another “God sends a prophet” story. I found the interaction between God effective-I especially like how the poker game works itself out.
Interestingly, it is only in the end that Bobby and God meet face to face. Burns works a bit of that magic from the first film in the conversation, God as kindly, but straight forward (“You made a deal with the devil…how dumb could you be?”) and above all, a sense of mystery touched with love and generosity.
This film was one of Burn’s last (although, he lived another 12 years), and you can see the years are catching up-he seems a bit more tired this time around.
While not as strong as the first film, Oh, God! You Devil actually has a lot to like. I confess, it is a franchise I would not mind seeing tackled again (although, the Bruce/Evan Almighty films tread into this territory).
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