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Satan Never Sleeps (1962)

During the Chinese Civil War of 1949, the Communists constantly harass the two priests of a remote Catholic mission outpost.


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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Father O'Banion
Father Bovard
Siu Lan
Athene Seyler ...
Sister Agness
Martin Benson ...
Edith Sharpe ...
Sister Theresa
Chung Ren
Marie Yang ...
Andy Ho ...
Ho San's Father
Ah Wang
Weaver Levy ...
Ho San (as Weaver Lee)


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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


LEO MCCAREY who gave you "Going My Way" and "The Bells of St. Mary's" now brings you his crowning achievement... See more »


Drama | History | War


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Release Date:

23 March 1962 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Flight from Terror  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,885,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was Clifton Webb's final film and one of only two of his sound films in which he appeared without his trademark mustache. The other was For Heaven's Sake (1950). See more »


In the baptism scene at the end, Holden pulls the white garment over his head just as the name of the child is revealed. His hair is very tousled as his head subsequently emerges. The scene cuts to the proud/happy parents, then right back to Holden and his hair is miraculously restored to its customary neatness with no apparent time elapsed. See more »


Satan Never Sleeps
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Harold Adamson and Leo McCarey
Sung by Timi Yuro
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User Reviews

Pure, 100% crap....and this might be generous!
24 November 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

"Satan Never Sleeps" is a truly horrible film and there is little I can say positive about it. It's often dull and promotes a VERY dangerous message--and, while it's meant to be anti-communist, you can't help but think that crap like this actually makes America look really, really stupid.

The film begins with a young priest (William Holden) arriving very late to replace an aging priest (Clifton Webb). The problem is that a weird young lady (France Nuyen) has been following Holden across China--as she's infatuated with him and won't take NO for an answer. This is pretty stupid and is, in a way, a prelude for what is to eventually follow. Webb is VERY perturbed, as he's old and more than ready to leave the country--especially since a communist takeover is imminent.

Soon, the communists do come and their leader is bent on two important tasks--to break the priests and make the them confess to various crimes as well as to rape Nuyen. He's never able to break the men but, and here is where the film gets ugly and despicable, after raping and impregnating Nuyen, the priests encourage her to forgive and forget for the baby's sake!! And, over the course of the film, the nasty rapist leader slowly becomes a really swell guy and helps the folks escape. And, over the course of the film, Nuyen falls in love with him!!! Apparently, rape isn't bad at all in the world of "Satan Never Sleeps" and you wonder who the heck thought this was an acceptable message?! What's next--a film that asks the audience to empathize with a pedophile?! If you can ignore the sick message (and I pray that you can't!), you are left with a very badly written story that is, for the most part, stupid. It's really sad, as it was Clifton Webb's last film---and I loved him in all his other films up until this movie. He and the rest try hard to make this film work, but the script is just awful--so awful that its anti-communist message comes off as stupid and muddled.

PS--I noticed one review says this made it to the book the 50 worst movies of all time. I have a copy of Harry Medved's great book "The 50 Worst Movies of All Time" and it is NOT in this book and I really have no idea what book the other reviewer is referring to.

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