Satan Never Sleeps
|Satan Never Sleeps|
|Directed by||Leo McCarey|
|Produced by||Leo McCarey|
|Screenplay by||Claude Binyon|
|Story by||Pearl S. Buck|
|Music by||Richard Rodney Bennett|
|Edited by||Gordon Pilkington|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation|
|Running time||125 minutes|
Satan Never Sleeps also known as The Devil Never Sleeps is a 1962 film directed by Leo McCarey (his final film, in which he returned to the religious themes of his classics Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)). It is about a priest, Father O'Banion (William Holden), who arrives at a mission-post in China accompanied by a young native girl, Siu Lan (France Nuyen), who has joined him along the way. His job is to relieve the incumbent priest Father Bovard (Clifton Webb), who is now too old and weak to continue with the upkeep of the church. However, Mao's 1949 Communist soldiers, who arrive at the mission before Bovard can depart, seize it as a command post. Their leader, Ho San (Weaver Lee), rapes the native girl and impregnates her, only later to realise that Communism is no good for him. In the end, the foursome flee to the border, but are pursued by Communist forces along the way.
In 1949 Catholic priests O'Banion (William Holden) and Bovard (Clifton Webb) are constantly harassed by the Communist People's Party at their remote mission outpost in China. Adding to Father O'Banion's troubles is the mission's cook, Siu Lan (France Nuyen), an attractive Chinese girl who makes no secret of her love for him.
Under the leadership of Ho San (Weaver Lee), the Communists wreck the mission dispensary and desecrate the chapel. Ho San straps O'Banion to a chair and rapes Siu Lan; later, when she gives birth to a son, Ho San displays paternal pride but refuses to stop persecuting the priests.
Only after the villagers revolt and his superiors order the killing of all Christians, including his parents, does Ho San become convinced that Communism will never solve China's problems. He decides to smuggle Siu Lan, his son, and the two priests out of the compound, but their journey is halted within a few miles of freedom by a helicopter sent to prevent Ho San's defection. Before he can be restrained, the aged Father Bovard dons Ho San's military cap and coat and drives away in the colonel's car. He dies in a spray of bullets from the helicopter, but his sacrifice enables the others to escape. Later, at mission headquarters in Hong Kong, O'Banion officiates at the wedding of Siu Lan and Ho San and baptizes their child.
- William Holden as Father O'Banion
- Clifton Webb as Father Bovard
- France Nuyen as Siu Lan
- Athene Seyler as Sister Agness
- Martin Benson as Kuznietsky
- Edith Sharpe as Sister Theresa
- Robert Lee as Chung Ren
- Marie Yang as Ho San's mother
- Andy Ho as Ho San's father
- Burt Kwouk as Ah Wang
- Weaver Lee as Ho San
The film was based on an original screenplay by Pearl S. Buck called 'China Story which had been sold to 20th Century Fox. In 1950 Hal B. Wallis acquired it then in 1960 it came to Leo McCarey. Father O'Banion was meant to die at the end but William Holden refused so the ending was changed. The movie was shot in England and Wales.
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p. 253
- Bosley Crowther: Satan Never Sleeps (1962). The New York Times February 22, 1962.
- Overview for Satan Never Sleeps (1962) Turner Classic Movies.
- Nat Segaloff, Final Cuts: The Last Films of 50 Great Directors, Bear Manor Media 2013 p 195-200
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