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Oh, God! You Devil (1984) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • George Burns returns as God, and as Satan. They battle over the soul of a young rock star who is willing to sell his soul to the devil.

  • George Burns is back as God, but oops, here he is as Satan, too. A young rock star is ready to sell his soul to Satan, and Satan is all too happy to oblige. Oops! Seems the fellow was watched over by God as a baby, so now the Almighty and his nemesis have to duke it out over the soul.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • In 1960 New York City, Arthur Shelton (John Doolittle) prays at the bedside of his young son, Bobby, who is sick with scarlet fever. On the street outside the apartment building, God (George Burns), dressed as an elderly man in a baseball cap and gray sweatsuit, writes the boy's name on a notepad and promises to watch over him.

    24 later in Los Angeles, California, the same Bobby Shelton (Ted Wass) is a struggling singer-songwriter married to Wendy (Roxanne Hart), a supportive wife and social worker. After another record company flatly rejects his latest composition, Bob by agrees to play a wedding for $500. Dejected, he tells himself he would "sell his soul to the devil" to be a success in the music business.

    The Devil (George Burns in a dual role), who is disguised as a cigar-smoking talent agent named Harry O. Tophet, receives Bobby's message while driving back from Miami after a personal assignment, and notices on his car computer that God "watched over" Bobby in 1960. The Devil, however, declares he has priority if a person directly asks for him.

    During the wedding reception, the Devil/Harry O. Tophet appears and gives Bobby his business card, promising to book him at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. Although Harry claims to represent "all the big names... sooner or later," Bobby is not familiar with the agent. Nevertheless, he is impressed when Harry orchestrates a series of pratfalls among the wedding guests.

    Meanwhile, rock star Billy Wayne (Robert Desiderio) panics when he realizes his seven-year contract with the Harry the Devil expires at midnight.

    At Astral Records, Bobby and his longtime talent agent, Charlie Gray (Eugene Roche), arrive for an appointment with executive, Gary Frantz (Ron Silver). As they wait in the reception room, Harry arrives and forces Bobby to decide between the two agents. Bobby takes a chance on the determined elderly man and fires Charlie. When Harry proposes a $3.5 million recording deal for Bobby, Frantz and his colleague laugh. At the same time, Harry hands Bobby a seven-year representation contract. When the young musician hesitates, Harry agrees to a trial period and extends the contract to 12 years. As soon as Bobby signs, Harry magically changes the name on the signature line to "Billy Wayne," and Frantz suddenly agrees to the million-dollar contract with the famous rock star. Although Bobby still feels like himself, everyone else now recognizes him as celebrity Billy Wayne. Meanwhile the real Billy Wayne has been transferred to Bobby's body, without any awareness of his former life.

    When Bobby telephones his wife to tell her the good news about the recording contract, he realizes another man has replaced him and that Wendy is also unaware of the switch. By now Bobby has surmised that his deal with Harry was a deal with the Devil, who reveals after the meeting that he lied about the trial period. During his first concert, Bobby is initially hesitant in front of screaming fans, but soon becomes more comfortable on stage. As the tour continues, he relishes the experience of being a rock star with a private plane, female groupies and magazine cover photos.

    Back in Los Angeles, however, Bobby arrives by helicopter at his hillside estate and is surprised that he still feels like his former self rather than a celebrity. He stops outside the loft apartment he shared with Wendy and appears regretful.

    Five months later, Harry visits Bobby again and mentions that God has become a bitter man, who rarely makes personal appearances on Earth. That night, Bobby is stunned to find out that Wendy is pregnant, but is relieved the child was conceived before the deal with the Devil was made. Desperate to return to his wife, Bobby begs to be released from his contract, but the Devil refuses. When he consults a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi about the unholy arrangement with Harry O. Tophet, the two religious leaders consider the musician mentally disturbed.

    On the street, Bobby encounters a sidewalk preacher who simply tells him to look for God in the desert. With a sudden urge to visit Las Vegas, Nevada, Bobby tells Gary Frantz to book performances at Caesars Palace. After the first show, Bobby asks the casino operator to page "the Lord" for him. When God telephones the musician's suite, he reassures Bobby and mentions that he has been watching over him since 1960. However, the Almighty does not offer immediate help and hangs up.

    Waiting in his dressing room before the next show, Bobby attempts to free himself from Billy Wayne's life by committing suicide. He swallows a handful of pills with liquor. Meanwhile in the casino, God and the Devil meet face-to-face for the first time and play poker together for the soul of Bobby Shelton. If the Devil wins, Bobby Shelton will die as Billy Wayne and be remembered with other fallen rock stars, such as Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley. During the play, God raises the stakes and wagers the millions of souls he is currently watching over. If he wins, the Devil will never be allowed to interfere in their lives, even if a person directly asks for him. The stakes are too risky for the Devil and he folds, conceding Bobby's soul. As God presents his weak card hand, the Devil realizes his opponent was bluffing.

    In the dressing room, Gary Frantz finds Billy Wayne's body unresponsive on the floor, while Bobby Shelton rises and slips out of the room. After a doctor declares Billy dead, Bobby finally feels released from the rock star's life.

    A wise-cracking, elderly God, who bears a strong resemblance to Harry the Devil, presents himself to Bobby and explains that he promised to look after Bobby when he had scarlet fever as child, adding that Arthur Shelton's prayer for his son was very convincing. God orders Bobby to go back to his wife. Unaware that her actual husband has been away for the past few months, Wendy welcomes Bobby home that evening. He tells her he has had a life-changing experience.

    Five years later, Bobby rushes to the bedside of his sick daughter and sings to her. Suddenly, Bobby hears the voice of God reassuring him.

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