Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Hilariously awful movies: The Devil At 4 O'Clock

THE DEVIL AT 4 O'CLOCK, 1961. Here is a movie to laugh at ... One would expect something good from a film with both Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra in 1961, helmed by veteran Mervyn Le Roy (who directed GOLD-DIGGERS OF 1933, see below) - a drama about religion and faith set in the South Seas as a volcano erupts. But what we get is a tedious, laughable plod though all the cliches - yes there is the lovely blind native girl (Barbara Luna) whom convict Sinatra deveops feelings for, there is the idealistic young priest (Kerwin Matthews, wasted here) who arrives to replace the tired old priest who has lost (and then regains)  his faith - thats Tracy.

Three convicts enroute to Tahiti are put to work at a children's leper hospital when their plane makes an unexpected stop on another island. There, Father Perreau is to get off and replace Father Doonan, who's been relieved of his duties by the cardinal. Once on the island, things get out of control when the volcano decides to erupt, and the Governor orders an evacuation. The convicts, priests and leper children are all on top of the island and have no sure way to get down and off to safety. All must work together if any are to survive.

The ending is a hoot as Spence and One Take Frank are left on the island and Frank crosses himself and is redeemed, due to Spencer, as the island explodes and they go to the bottom of the pacific. Kerwin and the others escape. Then there is the convict who falls into the quicksand ... and several other assorted treats. Perhaps Tracy felt like a change from those prestige movies like THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA or JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBURG, whereas Frank signed up for anything then. Le Roy made another doozy that year, difficult to see now, A MAJORITY OF ONE a tedious comedy with the stunt casting of Alec Guinness as a Japanese, wooing Jewish widow Rosalind Russell. I saw it as a kid. Le Roy scored though with GYPSY in 1962 and that Jean Seberg romantic thriller MOMENT TO MOMENT in 1965, which I like a lot and must return to. When I saw Le Roy being interviewed at the London National Film Theatre in the early '70s it began with the "You Gotta Have a Gimmick" number by the three strippers from GYSPY. Fab. 

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