The Devil at 4 O'Clock (1961)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Thriller  |  18 October 1961 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,537 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 13 critic

A crusty, eccentric priest recruits three reluctant convicts to help him rescue a children's leper colony from a Pacific island menaced by a smoldering volcano.


(as Mervyn Le Roy)


(screenplay), (novel)
0Check in


Airs Wed. Dec. 09, 11:30 PM on TCM

1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Father Joseph Perreau
Jacques (as Jean Pierre Aumont)
Grégoire Aslan ...
Marcel (as Gregoire Aslan)
Alexander Scourby ...
The Governor
Camille (as Barbara Luna)
Cathy Lewis ...
Bernie Hamilton ...
Martin Brandt ...
Doctor Wexler
Louis Merrill ...
Aristide Giraud
Tom Middleton ...
Paul, Co-pilot
Ann Duggan ...
Louis Mercier ...


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. Written by AzRanger <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

18 October 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Teufel kommt um vier  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,721,786 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)


(Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This picture is a cross-genre hybrid film: it is both an adventure movie and a disaster film. See more »


When one of the convicts has fallen in the mud pit,a bald headed man in dark clothing(crew member) can be seen behind the fauna to the right,pulling him with a rope further from rescue from Frank Sinatra's character. See more »


Harry: Hey, Holy Joe, we don't owe you nuttin', so don't start pushin'.
Father Matthew Doonan: Where you from, tough guy? I hear echoes.
Harry: I've been around... What's it to ya?
Father Matthew Doonan: You spit your T's. That'd be Jersey, I guess, maybe Jersey City. Hunh! I came from just across the River - Hell's Kitchen. We used to eat punks like you.
Harry: Maybe. That's when you had your teeth.
See more »


Featured in Sinatra: All or Nothing at All: Part 2 (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Affirmation of religion with a great script and photography
20 March 2003 | by (Trivandrum, Kerala, India) – See all my reviews

This film anticipates the "Dirty Dozen" film formula with a great story that affirms one's faith in God and the true missionary spirit of Catholic priests who went to various parts of the world to help the poor and the wretched of the earth at great personal sacrifice.

Yet the greatness of the film is not about the missionary zeal of Catholic priests but more about faith in God--the loss of faith and the process of regaining it. It is not an action film, it is a spiritual journey where convicts turn religious by observing selfless actions of others. It brings to mind Pearl S. Buck's "Satan never sleeps". The choice of the title "Devil at 4 O'clock" is unfortunate as the film is not about any devil--there is only a volcanic eruption at that time.

Even if you choose to discount the story, the film is admirable for its earthquake and volcano/lava flow sequences. I wonder how they were able to splice in realistic lava scenes as well as scenes of a small plane flying in close proximity to a volcano in full fury.

Along with "The Seventh Cross" and "Bad Day at Black Rock" this film ranks high as a Spencer Tracy film. He carries the film on his shoulders with good support from Frank Sinatra and Gregoire Aslan. Joseph Biroc's camerawork and Mervyl Leroy's decision to direct this film are commendable. If you have not seen the film see it, it will uplift your spirits and your faith in human values.

18 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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