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Remarkably funny western/revolutionary action pic stars Mitchum as a con
artist who poses as a priest and Langella as the South American' dictator he
and his friends have been blackmailed into assassinating. Hayworth appears
briefly as Langella's tormented mother.
The action is fast and well staged, and the film's humor is so effective that it has often been seen (mistakenly, I believe) as a spoof of its genre, rather than as the fine example it is of the genre at its best. This whole line of reasoning bothers me, because it implies that an adventure movie can't be funny, that it has to take itself deadly serious. Much like "Duck, You Sucker!" this film's irreverent humor is one of its main ingredients, but it does not detract from its standing as a decent action flick. It's in fact closer to the way action pictures are made today -- I would question whether the critics and fans who see this as a "parody" also think that Schwartzenegger's "Commando" and "The Running Man" are also parodies?
As Mitchum's character becomes more involved with Langella's peasant village, giving them the sacrament because they haven't seen a priest in years, he begins to BECOME the priest of his con-game, but his actions keep his friends and Langella guessing as to the extent of his "conversion." This brings up the theme of the appearance becoming the reality, an unusual theme for a western action flick.
Good performances and an unusually good film results.
This is a Zapata western set early XX century on the overlong Mexican
civil when happened the confrontation executed by Pancho Villa and
Emiliano Zapata against Porfirio Diaz , and , later on , against
Carránza and Obregón . A misfit group formed by a bandit priest (Robert
Mitchum) , an IRA Irish young man (Ken Hutchinson) and a gunrunner
(Victor Buono) , all of them are hired by a Mexican colonel (John
Colicos) to kill De la Plata (Frank Langella) , a Mexican tyrant .
The picture displays lots of action , battles , tongue-in-cheek , shootouts and a little bit of violence like the brutal killing a little boy . The casting is frankly well , Robert Mitchum (¨Night of the hunter¨ , ¨5 card stud¨ , ¨Bandido¨) is excellent in his usual facade of indifference and lazily acting as a greedy priest and wielding a Thomson machine-gun . Mitchum chewing up scenery in this peculiar role . The newcomer Ken Hutchinson provides added depth as an Irish terrorist with a bitter past ; however , this one being his most important role , as he went back England and only acting in TV movies . Frank Langella (¨Drácula¨) plays an elegant psycho killer who bears a deep hatred to Catholic Church . The famed secondary Victor Buono (¨What ever happened to Baby Jane¨ , ¨Hush , hush..sweet Charlotte¨) plays convincingly an avaricious gunrunner . Enjoyable performance by Rita Hayworth in his last completed film (her previous movies during her downfall were the Italian ones : ¨The bastards¨ and ¨The rover¨) , despite Alzheimer disease . In fact , she had difficulty remembering her lines and the crew believed it was because of alcohol abuse , but only later did they realize they were seeing the early stages of her Alzheimer's condition . Besides , there appears habitual secondaries who usually work in American productions shot in Mexico , such as : Gregory Sierra , Enrique Lucero and Chano Urueta . The motion picture was rightly directed by Ralph Nelson who made other good Westerns as ¨Soldier Blue¨ and ¨Duel at Diablo¨ . This offbeat Western will appeal to Robert Mitchum fans.
It's been my experience that many times,reviewers of this strange gem have been puzzled or turned off by the strange plot and readings that the players have provided.This is NOT just a standard western,with rebels trying to overthrow a tyrant.This is a parody of every flm cliche of that particular vintage.Mitchum is doing a burlesque of Bogart or any other reluctant hero fighting a tyrany.Langella is doing Jay Robinson's psychotic Caligula from "The Robe"or"demetrius and the Gladiators".Hayworth is every suffering mother,Colicos is every sly villain,and buono is having the time of his life and career as a virtuoso impersonator of Sydney Greenstreet.Get this film,make lots of popcorn,plenty of beverages,and enjoy.
What a splendid mix this film has. It uses Robert Mitchum in some ways better than any of his later vehicles ever attempted to. He plays "Father" Van Horne who on the surface is a Catholic missionary but in actuality is an accomplished bank robber cutting a swath through Central America with a prayer book in one hand and a Thompson machine gun in the other. He encounters Victor Buono as an English gun runner named Jenning and Ken Hutchinson as an IRA assassin named Emmett Keogh. Together the 3 men comprise Col Santilla Unholy Trinity charged with the liquidation of his nemesis, one Tomas De Laplata(Frank Langella) who has a murderous antipathy toward any and all clergy. With a setup like this you go along for the ride. Believe me you won't be bored.
I saw The Wrath of God as a sneak preview in 1972 when I was 14. I saw it with my dad at the now long gone Sunny Isle Theater in North Miami, Florida. I recall the film was action packed and concerned a South American Revolution around the early to mid 1900s. These type of films were popular in the 1960s and early 1970s: 100 Rifles, The Wild Bunch, The Professionals, Villa Rides, and the Wrath of God. Rita Hayworth looking surprising young and attractive. I believe she was 52, but looked about 40. Her part was small, and she looked extremely unhappy. Turned out to be her last film. Nothing really great here. Only fair, but lots of action. Only stands out as Rita Hayworth's final curtain call.
To some extent Ralph Nelson's "The Wrath of God" spoofs
westerns, but like Nelson's "Lilies of the Field," under the comedy
is, I think, a deeply felt belief in divine grace. Both movies focus on
unlikely human materials having a vocation they fail to recognize
and consciously resist. Herein, Robert Mitchum plays a con man
masquerading as a priest and a Catholic martyr in the tradition of
Thomas à Becket or Thomas More mistaken by many as a
In her last screen performance Rita Hayworth has preternaturally red hair (fire-engine red, not a color of any natural human hair), few lines, and is required to look devout (which she manages to do). As her flamboyantly traumatized and traumatizing son, Frank Langella gets to chew up the scenery, which he does with great relish (before "Dracula," after his memorable film debut in "Diary of a Mad Housewife" and Mel Brooks's adaptation of "The Twelve Chairs"). Ken Hutchinson does fine as the token normal guy who is embroiled in others' plots, including the romantic subplot that involves him with a mute Indian maiden (Paula Pritchett). In a Sidney Greenstreet-kind of role as a corpulent and corrupt gun-runner Victor Buono is suitably droll. Still, it is Mitchum's movie, and he is as compelling when he takes his priestly role seriously as when he plays the usual disengaged but competent existentialist who expects nothin' from nobody. <bt><br> A motley gang of foreign mercenaries getting involved in the confusions of the long-running Mexican revolution and taking a side against their financial interest recurred in a number of late-1960s and early-70s movies, including "The Wild Bunch", "The Professionals", and "A Fistful of Dynamite." The latter two use considerable humor within the genre of expatriates taking sides (which in Mexican settings of different eras includes "Vera Cruz", "Old Gringo", and "Bring Me the Head, of Alfredo García").
Not everyone agrees that this a parody. I have read that the film turned out confusing because of problems on the set. Including, Rita Hayworth's Alzheimer's and an actor who had a part for the first six weeks of filming. He was severly injured and couldn't complete his part properly. Therefore the confusion. Everyone wanted to just forget the whole thing but they released it anyway. All wasn't lost however, I personally found it very unique and intriguing. And as a Mitchum fan a rare, wonderful find on the classic movie channel.
Adaptation of James Graham's western book plays like a leftover second-feature from the 1940's. Robert Mitchum is very likable playing a machine-gun toting "priest" who, along with two criminals, is cornered into an assassination plot in 1920's Central America. Curious combination of cheeky asides and formula bloodshed takes a good while to jell; director Ralph Nelson appears to be attempting a quirky approach, but he doesn't go far enough with his dark-humored take. However, the pacing does pick up after a draggy first hour, and the supporting players are interesting. Rita Hayworth, cast as a sympathetic Senora, makes her final screen appearance. ** from ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Very enjoyable. This is a very good Western. This movie is a must see for fans of the genre or of Robert Mitchum. I was never able to find this movie on video let alone DVD. My favorite aspect of the movie is the little boy who trails Robert Mitchum throughout the movie. I believe that the movie would have been even better if this relationship had been emphasized more. This is especially true when you consider the climax of the movie which is left a little wanting because of this lack of relationship. Nevertheless, I was still moved at the end. What a cute kid! Wise and unusual choice for Hollywood to pick a Mexican child actor for the part.
The Wrath Of God is a kind of parody on the films Robert Mitchum was so
routinely cast in back in the Forties and Fifties and even later on
which he was doing know for a good paycheck. It's funny in spots, but
ultimately doesn't quite come off.
Humphrey Bogart's The Left Hand Of God is the closest comparison one can make to this film. Bogart is also an adventurer in priestly disguise who aids a Chinese village during Kuomintang China days.
The Wrath Of God has Mitchum as a priest who is also a conman and handy with a variety of weapons, particularly the Thompson submachine gun. He, Victor Buono and Kenneth Hutcherson form an alliance of convenience which wasn't easy with Buono and Hutcherson refighting all the recent troubles in Ireland.
They get impressed into service by a strutting Colonel played by John Colicos whose behavior and that of his troops doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence that Colicos's bunch are the good guys. Colicos has to get inside the stronghold of a wealthy Don played by a young Frank Langella in one of his earliest films. Colicos is no prize, but Langella is positively psychotic, especially on the subject of religion. In his domain he's forbade the Catholic Church and any of its priests from any practice of the religion. He's got his reasons, but they're kind of out in left field to say the least. Mitchum's convincing guise a priest might just draw him out.
The Wrath Of God marked the final screen appearance of Rita Hayworth who got the film as an act of charity by Mitchum according to the Lee Server biography of Mitchum. Hayworth was having financial problems and was drinking heavily. Little did anyone realize that the reason for her bad behavior which occasionally got reported in the press back then was the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. The woman was drinking literally because she was losing her mind. She caused a lot of production delays. A truly sad end to the woman who in my humble opinion was the greatest screen sex goddess of all.
What delays Rita Hayworth didn't cause Ken Hutcherson did with an accident which injured his arm and the insurance had to pay big bucks. The film was delayed by several weeks while Hutcherson healed and as Server put in his book, the insurance company wound up owning the film.
They didn't wind up owning Gone With The Wind.
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