Sinatra, Aslan, and Hamilton are three manacled convicts on their way to jail in Tahiti. Their small plane stops for the night on a French South Seas island known as Kalua. The island's volcano is making gurgling sounds and the governor, Scourby, realizes that it may erupt. Also aboard
the plane is the young priest, Matthews, who is going to take the place of Tracy, a cleric who has lost his faith in God and found new hope in bottles of hooch. Aumont is the bush pilot who is ferrying the criminals and will take Tracy away with him on the morrow. There's a children's leper
hospital up in the mountains and some work has to be completed on the chapel before Tracy departs. He asks for permission to put the three convicts to work and Scourby grants it. Meanwhile, slight earthquakes signal the onset of the volcano's activity. While at work, Sinatra falls in love with a
local blind girl played by Luna. They all plan to leave the next day, but the volcano erupts. Tracy enlists the convicts to help out when the island is rocked by a huge quake. They must get the children down from the mountain, through the jungle, and down to the sea where a large schooner will
wait until the outgoing tide at four o'clock--but not a second longer. The arduous travel takes them through wind, rain, and continuous tremors. Night falls and they huddle in a cave where Tracy marries Sinatra to Luna in a lovely sequence. Early in the morning, Aslan drowns in an accident.
Hamilton and Tracy use their strength to hold a swaying bridge as Sinatra leads the kids and Camille across, but the bridge collapses, crushes Hamilton, and leaves Tracy on the wrong side. Sinatra ferries the children to safety, gets them aboard the waiting ship at the harbor, then returns to the
jungle to help his compatriots. He finds Hamilton dying while the priest gives the convict the last rites. Sinatra watches, crosses himself, and the volcano explodes at that precise moment. The entire island, now empty except for Tracy, Sinatra, and Hamilton, blows as high as Krakatoa and sinks
into the ocean. The ending was downbeat and probably contributed to the lack of huge success at the wickets, despite the presence of such luminaries as Tracy and Sinatra. The title comes from a proverb: "It is hard for man to be brave when he knows he is going to meet the devil at four o'clock."
One could have wished for a happier conclusion, but it was a sincere attempt at a different kind of picture for both stars.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Sinatra, Aslan, and Hamilton are three manacled convicts on their way to jail in Tahiti. Their small plane stops for the night on a French South Seas island known as Kalua. The island's volcano is making gurgling sounds and the governor, Scourby, realizes… (more)