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Satan Never Sleeps (1962)

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


Leo McCarey, David W. Orton (uncredited)


Claude Binyon (screenplay), Leo McCarey (screenplay) | 1 more credit »



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Complete credited cast:
William Holden ... Father O'Banion
Clifton Webb ... Father Bovard
France Nuyen ... Siu Lan
Athene Seyler ... Sister Agness
Martin Benson ... Kuznietsky
Edith Sharpe Edith Sharpe ... Sister Theresa
Robert Lee ... Chung Ren
Marie Yang Marie Yang ... Ho San's Mother
Andy Ho Andy Ho ... Ho San's Father
Burt Kwouk ... Ah Wang
Weaver Levy 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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English | Cantonese

Release Date:

23 March 1962 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Flight from Terror See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »


Box Office


$2,885,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jack Cardiff made an uncredited directorial contribution. 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 »


Referenced in Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today (2010) See more »


Satan Never Sleeps
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Harold Adamson and Leo McCarey
Sung by Timi Yuro
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Depressing and Ultimately Unsatisfying
29 March 2001 | by Jobin17See all my reviews

This film, set in Mao's China during the Communist Revolution proved to be an almost infuriating film to view. It was the final film of Leo McCary's fantastic (and eclectic) directing career ("Duck Soup," "The Bells of St. Mary's). The story centers around a young priest, Father O'Bannion (William Holden) sent to relieve an aging priest in a Chinese mission. He meets a wide-eyed, idealistic young Chinese girl (France Nuyen) along the way. When he arrives at the mission, all hell seems to break loose. Without divulging too much plot...our young priest encounters many battles: fending off the affection of the young girl; remaining true to his faith, and abstaining from self-defense and violence (even under extreme duress); and pleasing his aging sage, the older preist (Clifton Webb). Why did this movie bother me? Well, in a nutshell: the young girl professes her love for Father O'Bannion...and he realizes he must send her off, despite his *true* feelings. Later, a character rapes the young girl while Father O'Bannion can only look on in desperation (after being tied up). After the inital horror, the good Father suscribes to the ideal that the resulting son needs a father. No matter who it is. When the rapist returns to see is his son, O'Bannion more or less encourages the young woman to form a family. This after our new "dad" has watched communists kill his parents in cold blood for the simple act of worshipping Christ. I suppose this movie is "pure to the period." But it's a tough movie to view in this day and age. A rapist is never properly punished. A man supresses his true feelings of love for a woman, who then must live with her attacker "just so the child can have a father." The finale is as wacky as forgiving rape for "family's sake." The charming Nuyen and Holden give solid performances, but the message sent, and the film itself, left me frustrated and somber.

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