17 user 5 critic

The Singer Not the Song (1961)

In a small Mexican town, a Catholic priest and a local bandit clash, but the brave priest ultimately wins the outlaw's respect.


(as Roy Baker)


(novel) (as Audrey Erskine Lindop), (screenplay)
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Cast overview:
Anacleto Comachi
Father Michael Keogh
Locha de Cortinez
Old Uncle
John Bentley ...
Police Captain
Leslie French ...
Father Gomez
Nyall Florenz ...
Roger Delgado ...
Pedro de Cortinez
Philip Gilbert ...
Phil Brown
Selma Vaz Dias ...
Laurence Payne ...
Jacqueline Evans ...
Dona Marian
Lee Montague ...
Serafina Di Leo ...


During the 1950s, in a small isolated Mexican village, the local Roman Catholic priest, Father Gomez, is an older man with a broken spirit. During his tenure in the village of Quantano, he fought hard to keep his flock of parishioners, in spite of threats and intimidation from the part of local bandit Anacleto Comachi and his men. The atheistic bandit has imposed his tyrannical rule over the region for many years. The local Police cannot find any witnesses to come forward and testify to any wrongdoing from the part of Anacleto. Therefore, they cannot charge him or arrest him. The Catholic Church replaces Father Gomez with a younger, more energetic priest, Father Keogh from Ireland. Before departing the village, Father Gomez warns Father Keogh of the dangers of defying Anacleto Comachi's authority. But Father Keogh openly defies the bandit and administers his daily priestly duties at the village church. He even manages to persuade some of the villagers to start attending church again. ... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A New and Powerfully Different Kind of Motion Picture Story... See more »


Drama | Western


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Release Date:

2 May 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Esperança Nunca Morre  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


John Mills has stated in interviews that Dirk Bogarde was one of the very few actors he disliked working with. See more »

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User Reviews

Final dish is tastier than its ingredients suggest...
5 April 2012 | by (Salisbury, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This unusual 'Western' is all a bit of mess. But some of the ingredients are rather tasty and juicy and so, it is actually quite enjoyable.

John Mills, as the priest, supposedly Irish but who's accent is only about 10% that, does OK but doesn't shine. Apparently Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift were first choices for his part. And on set, he didn't get on with arch rival desperado outlaw, Dirk Bogarde - and it shows.

Bogarde's high-camp dandy of an outlaw would make you laugh if this film wasn't so serious. To many, the ongoing religiosity - I won't go so far to say 'sermonising' between the Church (Catholic, in this case)

  • could be a turn-off.

I was trying to place the film's setting, period wise but can't find mention of it but would guess 1930-40s and a remote village in Mexico (actually Spain). Aside of its two English leads and the above, the final third in the triangle is a beautiful blonde French young actress, Mylene Demongeot. As I said, quite a mish-mash that makes a tastier dish than it should.

Trying to simplify the plot, I'll say that Mills takes over from another priest who is disenchanted and can't wait to get out. Mills, the idealist and good-doer can't believe him when he says that the Church is hated in the village, led by the local gangster, Bogarde. This desperado punishes any that assist or even go to church. Demongeot is the daughter of a local man who helps the priest. Apparently, she's in love with Mills, who presumes it's Bogarde that is her crush.

One day, a drunk man who Mills prays for comes to his lodgings after and tries to kill him. Bogarde saves his life and shoots the man, dead. The police, who have never had anything concrete to nail the crook on, try to arrest him but not only does Mills neither hand him over but absolves his sins. Thinking that he has redeemed an evil man....

And so it goes on. The girl is beautiful and nice to look at, Bogarde struts around gamely like a peacock and Mills is reliably nice.

The title - one of its strong points - refers to the man (the priest) rather than his song (Church, The Bible) as Bogarde came to have respect and admiration for Mills, rather than what he stood for.

The direction is a bit stodgy and as I saw it on commercial TV, it was cut up by frequent ads and in 4:3 ratio. And soft. And long, at 2.5 hours (on ITV)

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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