A man in priestly robes, seemingly the long-awaited Father O'Shea, arrives at a little-frequented Catholic mission in 1947 China. Though the man seems curiously uncomfortable with his priestly duties, his tough tactics prove very successful in the Seven Villages, as around them China disintegrates in civil war and revolution. But he has a secret, and his friendship with mission nurse Anne (an attractive war widow) seems to be taking on an unpriestly tone... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
William Faulkner completed an adaptation of the 1950 novel for director Howard Hawks, a longtime collaborator, but the results were deemed "rather dull and sincere with an abundance of narration" by Hawks biographer Todd McCarthy and was shelved. See more »
Throughout the climactic confrontation as Carmody and Mieh Yang sit next to each other, Mieh Yang's bald head shifts repeatedly between sunshine and shadow. See more »
Great movie stars are rarely great actors. But they are people who exude elements of humanity, which we'd like to possess- John Wayne's toughness, Sharon Stone's glamour, Gary Cooper's inner silence, or Michael Douglas's ruthlessness. More unique than acting talent, Humphrey Bogart's element was that of hardened sinner whose inner spark of decency wasn't entirely subsumed. In this Cinemascope/colour movie, where Bogie's late-night drinking and myriad of broken marital relationships was visibly etched upon every facial crevice, the idea that he could pass himself off as a priest was ludicrous. But THE LEFT HAND OF GOD never demands that of him- nor us.
It makes instead, the not impossible proposition that a simple, remote Chinese community traumatised by marauders might presume Bogie to be the 'priest of Christ' they so anxiously await. We the audience, are privy to who Bogey is and still is. His un-Godly skill, which ultimately saves the mission from General Yang's terror, is entirely in character.
The Catholic theology was also dead on. Those whom Bogie absolved, married and buried were spiritually exonerated by the very innocence we moviegoers cannot share about Bogart. The power of the central argument of William Barrett's much dissipated novel, in spite of -or maybe because of, 50's Hollywood formulaic moviemaking- is somehow preserved.
The repetitious references to Bogey as 'the priest of Christ' and the ingenuous children's enigmatic broken-English farewell of 'Oole Kantackee Hom,' also persuade. We know Bogey must leave, and that he is redeemed in spite of himself. Even Bogie doesn't know that. We now also know that this life-scarred, bloodshot, poker-playing sceptic received a fair Hearing- after dying from throat cancer less than two years later on January 14th 1957 -at least from the left Hand Side of his Maker.
26 of 47 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?