Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ The Wrath of God (1972)

The Wrath of God (1972) is a Western filled with fake blood, guns, whiskey and dust. Based on a novel by James Graham, the film stars Robert Mitchum  as Father Van Horne, a gun-toting Catholic priest from the Boston Diocese, or so he says, traveling Central America looking for a bottle of booze to drink, a cigar to smoke and people to bless. It's the 1920s and Prohibition makes whiskey smuggling a profitable venture. Irishman Emmett (Ken Hutchison) thinks he is smuggling whiskey for Jennings (Victor Buono) but really he's smuggling guns. Emmett saves a local Indian girl Chela (Paula Pritchett) from being raped by a bunch of local gangsters. But when the gangsters hold Emmett and Chela prisoner, it's assault rifle toting Father Van Horne who comes to save the day.

Caught with the smuggled guns, Emmett and Father Van Horne are thrown in jail along with Jennings who was already caught. Instead of being executed, Colonel Santilla (John Colicos) gives them a mission. This Unholy Trinity, the father (Robert Mitchum's Father Van Horne), the son (Ken Hutchison's Emmett) and the Holy Ghost (Victor Buono's Jennings) are to assassinate the corrupt leader of the city of Mojata (not 100% sure of the name), Thomas De La Plata (Frank Langella). De La Plata has been terrorizing his people, creating a ring of terror with lots of executions of his people. His death would help ease the tensions in already terrorized nation. Any priest to step foot in Mojata will be killed and anyone helping the priest will also be executed which makes things difficult for Father Van Horne.

The Unholy Trinity set out a plan to settle in Mojata and lure De La Plata so they can kill him. Emmett and Jennings pretend to be business men interested in the town's mining industry and Father Van Horne does what he does best.

This is Rita Hayworth's final movie. She plays Senora De La Plata, the terrorizing leader's mother who finds solace in the idea of a Priest helping the town. She delivers a fine performance even with her early struggles with Alzheimer's.

Despite so many interesting characters, this is really Robert Mitchum's movie. It's all about the Father Van Horne, his religious savvy and his guns. He's a bad ass priest who is looking to kick some dictatorial butt and take names.

 (Anyone know why the scene in which Father Van Horne provides religious services to the town is grainier than the rest of the film? It's as though a filter was added on purpose. The best I could come up with is that the filter is like the screen in a priest's confessional).

The Wrath of God is an action-packed Western with some humorous moments and a little bit of a love story. It explores the oppression of people by the suppression of religion and the paralyzing of civilians by the instillment of fear through widespread executions, many which happen publicly. The film starts off a bit slow but once the Unholy Trinity are assigned their mission and as we see Robert Mitchum's Father Van Horne lead the pack, the pace of the story picks up. I'm usually not a big fan of Westerns but I really did enjoy this one.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received The Wrath of God (1972) from Warner Archive for review.

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