Sunday, May 15, 2011

We're No Angels (1955)

Finishing a blogathon 5 months later is okay... right?!

We're No Angels (1955) is a Christmas story like no other. It's the turn of the 20th Century and three Devil's Island convicts find themselves on a tropical island colonized by France. They need money to catch a ship back to Europe but find themselves without any resources. So what are three convicts to do? Steal and kill of course! Joseph (Humphrey Bogart), Albert (Aldo Ray) and Jules (Peter Ustinov) target the Ducotel family who run a local shop. But the mother Ducotel (Joan Bennett), father Ducotel (Leo G. Carroll) and the lovesick daughter Isabelle (Gloria Talbott) are sweet, kind and charming. What are three ruthless convicts to do when they are being treated nicely on this Christmas Eve? They still need to make it home! Will they be able to kill this nice family?

This is one of the few Humphrey Bogart films in color. The only other one I can think of is The African Queen. And boy is there a lot of color. So make sure that if you are a Bogie fan that this film is in your repertoire. While Bogie is charming as the swindler of the convict pact (he's the brains behind the operation) and Peter Ustinov is also charming as the goofy and lovable safecracker, it's Aldo Ray that caught my attention. Why? Because he doesn't look like he belongs in a film from 1955. He looks like he's straight out of the 21st Century. He's got that All-American look that is All-American now but not back then. Big broad shoulders, big arms, lots of height, buzz cut hair and tattoos. That's NOW. He stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas were buff in a barrel-chested kind of way. Aldo Ray had some real bulk to his muscles. Wow!

Moving on... This is a very enjoyable film. It's black humor with a wholesome feel and a bit of sex thrown in. We're No Angels can be a bit slow paced. I won't hide the fact that I fell asleep twice while watching the film (it could be a lullaby!). It's not explicitly Christmas. In fact, the tropical setting and the focus on the Convict-Family plot makes you forget the holiday theme a few times in the film. However, I think that non-Christmas films that take place at Christmas are great for Holiday viewing.

Three Angels came to earth that night and all around the stars were bright.


  1. Oh my Bogey in colour, I am so there! x

  2. I see this movie on the shelf at my library all the time, pick it up, think about checking it out, but then of course I always turn my attention to something else. Knowing now that the film has a Christmas connection I think I might add this to my holiday viewing schedule :)

    The screen grabs look great by the way. Oh, the gorgeous color!

  3. I know that you are mostly concerned with pleasing your corporate master, but this film is really terrible. I doubt you or anyone else can tolerate it.

    Ah, but that is not a big deal, eh? It's all about the money, so keep shoveling it. Hopefully your checks will clear, and you'll buy everything you need from Wal-Mart.

  4. Hannah - Enjoy!
    Robby - christmas is a good excuse to watch this! :-) thanks for stopping by.

  5. Bill - wow you are a jerk! I don't have a corporate sponsor. I borrowed this film from a friend. And didn't I mention that the film is slow and I fell asleep twice during it? Just because I use Amazon links doesn't mean I'm all for the money. I've written this blog for 4 years and haven't made a dime off of it yet with the meager ads I have. So shove it!

  6. Interesting observation about Aldo Ray seeming like a modern guy.

  7. Jacqueline - thanks for stopping by! I haven't seen Aldo Ray in any other films so my observation is limited to this one. I am very fascinated with the difference in body types from what I see in classic films and what I see today. Especially female torsos. With women wear high-waisted skirts and pants as well as girdles, the hourglass figure and the tiny waist was more prevalent back then. Today, the torso on women seems more square since we don't wear girdles (we wear spankx instead) and we wear our skirts and pants much lower on the hip.

  8. I've wanted to see this ever since I watched the maligned remake, which was an amusing diversion. And you're right, Aldo Ray does kind of stick out here; he'd probably be more at home in a noir or violent B-movie like Armored Car Robbery. I'll definitely check it out, even if it's not one of Bogie's best.

    (did he really say corporate masters? don't feed the trolls...)

  9. Thomas - Oh I saw that remake referred to online. And looking at Aldo Ray's filmography I've seen a few of his films I guess. If you do see We're No Angels, let me know what you think.

    Yes and he also said "Wal-Mart". LOL

  10. Nice review! I'll be adding this to my watch list.

    I noticed where you mentioned that Bogie made few color films- I think he only made 4 others besides We're No Angels (The African Queen, The Caine Mutiny, The Barefoot Contessa, and The Left Hand of God).

  11. one of the few Bogart films i have yet to see! maybe one of my corporate masters will give me a dvd of it next xmas purchased from Walmart i hope! wtf is that guy's problem lol!

  12. Meredith - Thank you so much for that list! I completely forgot about those other films.

    Paulie - It's available on DVD so what are your corporate masters waiting for?! Now are you waiting on this one to stretch out the new-to-you Bogie films? I've been doing that with some Norma Shearer ones.

  13. Raquelle, I saw this one when I was too young, early teens, when I was steeped in Bogie's great films like Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, High Sierra, etc. I need to view it again. I just remember being so surprised to see him in a comedy, in color, and not being Mr. Cool. You know how young teens can be totally intolerant sometimes, besides not having the maturity for some things.

    I certainly don't know if I would say it was a great movie (your pictures by the way are gorgeous!), but I'm going to give it another try now that I am past my teens (WAY past!)

    Oh, for some reason, as I read your comments, Quentin Tarantino came to mind and I thought of the "Kill Bill" movies! Hmmm...

  14. Regarding tattoos in this era were only for the rough types, sailors and people on the fringe. Now it's high-school girls and investment bankers.

  15. Love this blog - the vintage movies are always the best! I'll definitely be visiting again.
    Please check out my blog of reviews and feel free to follow!

  16. 3 other Bogie films in colour
    The Caine Mutiny
    The Barefoot Contessa
    The Left Hand of God

  17. We're No Angels offers viewers many witty lines, but its roots as a play lead to a slow pace. The background of Joseph, Albert and Jules makes them hard to cheer for. I can't recommend this film and definitely would steer far, far away from the dreadful 1989 remake with Robert DeNiro and Sean Penn.


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