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J. Carrol Naish
An American tanker is sunk by a German U-boat and the survivors spend eleven days at sea on a raft. They're next assigned to the liberty ship "Sea Witch" bound for Murmansk through the sub-stalked North Atlantic.
At Christmas, three prisoners - Joseph, Albert and Jules - escape from Devil Island to a French small coastal town. They decide to rob a store, to get some money and clothes and travel by ship to another place. They pretend to be there to fix the roof, but pretty soon they realize that the financial condition of the family Ducotel is not good. Andre Tochard, the selfish and mean owner of the establishment, exploits the family Ducotel. The three convicts spend Christmas night with the Ducotels and are so well treated by the family that they decide to help them. Their pet will help them to fix the situation. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
We're No Angels is adapted from a French play La Cuisine de Anges which was written by Albert Husson and ran a nice, respectable 344 performances on Broadway 1953-1954. In the roles of those unlikely angel/convicts on Broadway were Walter Slezak, Jerome Cowan, and Darren McGavin.
Our three in this film are Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray who escape from Devil's Island and are now among hundreds of other paroled convicts in the French West Indies at the turn of the last century. This was around the time Alfred Dreyfus was in Devil's Island so we know it was no fun place to be.
But these three seem to have a light hearted take life as it comes attitude. There's no whining from any of them about them being innocent of what got them there. But they want out and make it.
Fate puts them in the hands of a family they first would like to rob for some getaway loot. But hearing and seeing the sad plight they're in they can't bring themselves to do it. Then of course comes the Christmas visit of a tyrannical cousin played with relish by Basil Rathbone whom they work for and the convicts work becomes a pleasure.
They are aided of course by a pet coral snake named Adolph that Ray keeps in a straw basket. In many ways Adolph is almost divinely driven to do his duty.
Humphrey Bogart who was an unsuccessful embezzler in the film has a nice light touch for deadpan comedy. Too bad he didn't use it more often in films. This was a nice blend of comedy together with Bogey's gangster persona which we see more of in his films. On stage before he came to Hollywood, Bogart actually did a lot of light comedy.
This was also Bogart's final film with Director Michael Curtiz with whom he worked often and well back at Warner Brothers. Most particularly in Casablanca which was Curtiz's Oscar winning film for himself and for the film. A lot consider that film the one that firmly cemented Humphrey Bogart as a top box office draw.
Leo G. Carroll, Joan Bennett, and Gloria Talbott are the family who get some help on Christmas. The film itself is a great indication how the Deity or the fates do indeed move in mysterious ways.
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