In his autobiography "Sun and Shadow", Jean-Pierre Aumont, who played Jacques, spoke of scheduling conflicts between Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra: "[Tracy], a genial man who was not well at the time, couldn't work past the morning. The problem was that Sinatra would only work in the afternoon. In the morning he hired a private plane and hopped from island to island trying to convince the startled inhabitants to vote for [John F. Kennedy] in the next presidential election. Around two o'clock he returned, exhausted, at the precise moment when Tracy was retiring for the day to his rooms. How, in these conditions, the scenes between Tracy and Sinatra were shot is a mystery to me." See more »
At approximately one hour and 48 minutes into the film, when a convict falls into a mud pit and drowns, just before he disappears below the surface you can see a mistake in the background matte which shows the volcano. The glaring mistake reveals part of the background appearing in front of the top of his head, making it appear as though the top of his head is missing. Then as he slips further down, the top of his head then comes back into view as his head falls below the matte. See more »
Harry, what if it
When you hit the ground, tell me about it and I'll fix it for you.
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Affirmation of religion with a great script and photography
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.
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