A priest (William Holden) arrives at a mission-post in China accompanied by a young native girl who has joined him along the way. His job is to relieve the existing priest (Clifton Webb), ... See full summary »
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A priest (William Holden) arrives at a mission-post in China accompanied by a young native girl who has joined him along the way. His job is to relieve the existing priest (Clifton Webb), who is now too old and weak to continue with the upkeep of the church. However, Communist soldiers arrive at the mission and seize it as a command post. Their leader rapes the native girl and impregnates her, only later to realise that Communism is no good for him. In the end, the foursome flee to the border, but are pursued by Communist forces along the way. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
Director Leo McCarey disliked working on this picture so much that he left it five days before it was supposed to wrap. His assistant, David W. Orton, finished shooting the picture. See more »
In the scene immediately following the opening credits, as Father O'Banion leads a donkey carrying Siu Lan along a mountain path overlooking a valley, their shadows are plainly visible on the painted backdrop of the valley. See more »
William Holden (looking disinterested) and fey Clifton Webb are priests in the 1940s serving at a Chinese mission and being terrorized by the Red Chinese Army. Holden is actually being terrorized in another way as well--by twinkling servant Frances Nuyen, who's anxious to snuggle up to the heavy-sighing Man of the Cloth. Director Leo McCarey helmed this adaptation of Pearl Buck's novel as either a comedy-drama or as a drama with a comedic undermining (I'm not sure which, as the tone of the film strays all over the place). There are Communist takeover sequences such as the crucifix thrown on the fire which should be harrowing, but McCarey directs it thoughtlessly, cartoonishly. We never really fear for Holden or Webb's safety because the direction is so dispassionate (and Holden is so laconic) that fear seems nearly unwarranted. I actually found the Nuyen-seducing-Holden scenes more tasteless than the violence, and the pat conclusion is tacked on for silly relief--but by then the viewer has no idea where to stand emotionally with "Satan Never Sleeps". It's a curiosity, but not a particularly good example of one. ** from ****
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