Chilling Adventures of Sabrina knows its horror history and loves to revel in it. From Sabrina and her friends seeing 1968's Night of the Living Dead in the theater to Roz and Susie watching 1962's Carnival of Souls at their sleepover, the movie references in this show are extensive. But none of the Easter egg references are as massive as the one that shows up in Episode 3, when Daniel Webster turns up as Sabrina's lawyer. He's straight out of a story of his own, and there's a Daniel Webster movie for Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina fans to check out once viewers are done binging the series. Warning: Spoilers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 1 follow.
When Sabrina finds herself being dragged to Witch Court at the beginning of Episode 3, Father Blackwood declares she is in breach of contract. She was promised to sign her name in the Book of the Beast on her 16th birthday, and she didn't do it. Sabrina, being a sensible sort, does what anyone headed to court would do. She hires a lawyer, one with a reputation of having beaten the devil himself. His name is Daniel Webster (John Rubenstein), and though he is initially reluctant, in the end, he takes the case.
But Chilling Adventures of Sabrina didn't make Daniel up out of whole cloth. Webster was a real person, who lived from January 1782 to October 1852. He served as a cabinet official, the Secretary of State to no less than three presidents (William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore). He also ran for president under the Whig Party three times — in 1836, 1840, and 1852.
But what Webster was really famous for was his court cases. He was considered the top lawyer in the country in his day. He was a regular trial lawyer in Supreme Court cases, and according to his biographers, won literally half of them, setting federal precedences we take for granted to this day.
He was so famous as a lawyer, author Steven Vincent Benét wrote a short story about him called "The Devil and Daniel Webster," in which a man, Jabez Stone, sells his soul to the devil for the successes he has in life, only to realize he's been tricked. To defeat the devil in court, he hires Daniel Webster.
Sound familiar? Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may have changed Daniel Webster's backstory to suit their own needs, but when Ambrose tells Sabrina Webster once beat the devil in court, this is the story he's talking about.
In the 1940s, the short story, which was world famous by then, was turned into a movie starring Edward Arnold as Daniel Webster, the greatest lawyer in the world. Walter Huston, the grandfather of Anjelica Huston, plays "Mr. Scratch" aka The Devil himself.
For those who are interested and want to see the court case that made Daniel Webster world famous, it's available for streaming on FilmStruck or for rent via Amazon and iTunes.