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In 1921, Kerry O'Shea (Don Murray, Bus Stop), an American medical student living in Ireland, learns that his esteemed professor, Sean Lenihan (Cagney), is also a leader in Ireland's rebel army. Even though Kerry's father and roommate have both been killed by British troops, he refuses to join the Irish rebellion. However, after Kerry is unjustly imprisoned and tortured by the British "Black and Tans," he fully commits himself to the cause of Irish freedom.
Based on the 1933 novel by Rearden Conner, Shake Hands with the Devil features fine support from Dana Wynter (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Glynis Johns (No Highway in the Sky), Michael Redgrave (The Night My Number Came Up), Sybil Thorndike (Stage Fright), Cyril Cusack (The Homecoming) and Richard Harris (Juggernaut) in an early screen role.