SATAN NEVER SLEEPS, but most of the audience did in this rehash of GOING MY WAY. McCarey liked making pictures with Catholic themes (like the Bing Crosby-Barry Fitzgerald film as well as THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S), but he fizzles here with miscasting and an ill-advised story. Priests Holden
and Webb are living in 1949 China where the local Communists won't leave them alone. They are at a quiet village on the edge of nowhere, and Lee, the leader of the Reds, is causing trouble. Lee and his thugs come into the mission, smash up the hospital area, wreck the chapel, and top it off when
Lee ties Holden to a seat and makes him watch helplessly as Lee rapes Nuyen, the mission's cook. The requisite number of months later, Nuyen delivers Lee's son. He is thrilled by the cute little Communist and celebrates by continuing his harassment of Holden and Webb (who was far too effete to
play a missionary priest and looked more at home with a martini than a glass of sacramental wine). The local people rise up against the Reds, and Lee gets the order from on high that he must kill all the Christians in the area, including the priests and his own converted parents, Yang and Ho. That
puts a damper on his allegiance to Mao. Lee takes Nuyen, their son, Holden, and Webb and plans to find sanctuary in Hong Kong. Before they can get too far, a helicopter arrives to stop them from escaping. Webb does the heroic thing by putting on Lee's identifiable hat and coat, getting into Lee's
car, and driving in a different direction. Bullets rain down from the chopper and kill Webb, but his diversionary tactic gives the others the chance to cross the border. Once in Hong Kong, the baby is given a proper baptism, and Holden marries Lee to Nuyen as the picture ends.
This cloying film is filled with homilies, then it throws in one action sequence after another to wake up the audience. England and Wales doubled as China in the location shots; only a few viewers could tell the difference, as in those days nobody was allowed in mainland China. The villains,
except for Lee, are painted in such black tones that the politicizing of the movie is far too strong for the subject matter. The rape scene and the violence make this a cautionary choice for youngsters.
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