The Singer Not the Song

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The Singer Not the Song
The Singer Not the Song FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Produced by Roy Ward Baker
Screenplay by Nigel Balchin
Based on The Singer Not the Song 
by Audrey Erskine-Lindop
Starring Dirk Bogarde
John Mills
Mylène Demongeot
Music by Philip Green
Cinematography Otto Heller
Editing by Roger Cherrill
Studio Rank Organisation
Distributed by Rank Film Distributors (UK)
Warner Bros. Pictures (US)
Release dates
  • 5 January 1961 (1961-01-05) (UK)
  • 13 October 1961 (1961-10-13) (AUS)
  • 2 May 1962 (1962-05-02) (US)
Running time 132 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Singer Not the Song is a 1961 British drama film based on the 1953 novel by Audrey Erskine-Lindop that was directed by Roy Ward Baker and filmed in Spain.


A priest, Father Michael Keogh (John Mills), is sent by Rome to Quantana, a remote Mexican town which is under the control of a ruthless bandito, Anacleto Komachi (Dirk Bogarde). Anacleto is educated and intelligent, and has a "down" on the Church, but he finds in Keogh a man he strangely admires and with whom he can have intelligent conversation. However, he does not allow this to distract him from his goal: to expunge the priest from his fiefdom at any cost.


The movie's homosexual undertones have been so much the focus of observation and criticism over the years, that other aspects are frequently overlooked. The movie is, first and foremost, a story of Good versus Evil, with the priest in the role of some redeemer come to save the villagers, and the bandito as the devil incarnate intent on owning their souls. Each seeks to drive the other out.

The character of Anacleto is intriguing in that he shows the willingness to become a better person, yet underlyingly he sees the corruption and hypocrisy in the Church and on those grounds, rather than on evil ones, he cannot bring himself to embrace it. Meanwhile the Church has, since the movie was made, revealed to an even more disturbing degree the scandals and outrages over which it has presided and which have occurred within it, rendering more subtle and intriguing the contrast between the two men, whose mutual struggle to drive each other out ends as we might expect—neither wins.

Main cast[edit]


Roy Ward Baker was forced to make the film under his contract with Rank. He tried to get out of it by suggesting Luis Buñuel as director but was unsuccessful.[1]

When the Rank Organisation insisted that John Mills play the priest, Dirk Bogarde became so incensed that he told director Roy Ward Baker, "I promise you, if Johnny plays the priest I will make life unbearable for everyone concerned". The film failed at the box office, but has since developed a cult following due to its camp homosexual context and over the top performance by the black clad leather pants wearing Bogarde.[2]

Even though the story takes place in Mexico, the movie was actually filmed in Alhaurín de la Torre, in Andalusia, Spain.


External links[edit]