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Monday, October 21, 2013

The Wrath of God (released in 1972) - Starring Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella, Rita Hayworth and Victor Buono

“They offered them a choice - the firing squad . . . or The Wrath of God.”
The Wrath of God, sourced from a book by Jack Higgins (under the pen name James Graham) was released in 1972; having been filmed in Mexico and was directed by Ralph Nelson. The story is about three nefarious men with a reprehensible past. Emmet Keogh (played by Ken Hutchinson) is an Irishman with a violent, bitter past. He is desperately trying to get out of the violent state in Mexico. He manages to put together enough funds to buy a train ticket out of Mexico, where revolutionaries are lined-up in the streets and gunned down with laid back reliability. Emmet meets bootlegger, gunrunner Jennings (played by Victor Buono), a big man in a white suit. Jennings asks him to bootleg Scotch Whiskey (actually guns, though Emmet doesn’t know) across the border into the US. When Keogh refuses, the ‘businessman’ has his passport and ticket stolen, arm twisting Emmet into agreeing to the task.
Father Van Horne (Robert Mitchum) is a Roman Catholic priest (or so he’d have you believe). A trigger happy man of cloth, he carries a gun in his Bible and a switchblade in a Crucifix. A fellow outlaw comments (on noticing that Horne is holding the Bible upside down) : “If that IS a Bible," he says, "read it. If that ain't a Bible, drop it." Emmet learns that the good priest was originally with the Boston dioceses, sent to Central America to raise funds. Keogh is unaware that Van Horne has been defrocked. Van Horne rescues Emmet from brigands who are angry when the latter saves a mute Native American girl, Chela (played by Paula Pritchett) from being gang raped by them.

Consequently, the three men: Van Horne, Emmet Keogh and Jennings are arrested, charged with siding up with the counter revolutionaries and taken captive - to face death by a firing squad. The man responsible for their fate is Colonel Santilla (played by John Colicos), a revolutionary with a deep feeling of hatred for the Catholic Church. The Colonel strikes a deal with them - he will free them and offer safe passage to the US – on the condition that they have to assassinate a despot from nearby – Tomas De La Plata (Frank Langella). The strongman has a personal vendetta against the Colonel, whose men put to death his father, raped his mother, and plagued his sister to commit suicide. And so, the Unholy Trinity, the father (played by Father Van Horne), the son (played by Emmett) and the Holy Ghost (played by Jennings) are to assassinate the despotic maniac.
Van Horne dons his priestly garb once more and throws open the doors of the House of God in De La Plata's village; Emmett and Jennings pretend to be business men interested in the town's mining industry – thus, the Unholy Trinity lays a trap for La Plata. Violence, extreme sometimes, tends to mar the viewing (the merciless gunning of a little boy); also, there is far too much detailing which confuses the viewer .. Notable performances are delivered by Mitchum and Hayworth. This was the latter’s last completed movie. She was constantly plagued with forgetfulness, many members of the crew thought she was downing one drink too many; they later found out that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, which was the cause of her forgetting her lines.

The Wrath of God (released in 1972) - Starring Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella, Rita Hayworth and Victor Buono

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