The Left Hand of God
|The Left Hand of God|
Original film poster
|Directed by||Edward Dmytryk|
|Produced by||Buddy Adler|
|Written by||Alfred Hayes
William Edmund Barrett (novel)
Lee J. Cobb
|Music by||Victor Young|
|Edited by||Dorothy Spencer|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$4 million (US)|
The Left Hand of God is a 1955 drama film made by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Edward Dmytryk and produced by Buddy Adler, from a screenplay by Alfred Hayes, based on the novel The Left Hand of God, by William Edmund Barrett.
Set at a small American mission in China in 1947, at a time of civil war, it stars Humphrey Bogart masquerading as a Catholic priest and Gene Tierney in the role of a nurse, with a supporting cast including Lee J. Cobb, Agnes Moorehead, E. G. Marshall, and Carl Benton Reid.
While playing Anne Scot, Tierney became ill. Bogart had a personal experience as he was close to a sister who suffered from mental illness, so during the production, he fed Tierney her lines and encouraged her to seek help.
In 1947, Catholic priest Father O'Shea (Humphrey Bogart) makes his way to a remote mission in China to replace a priest who was killed there. He meets Dr. David Sigman (E.G. Marshall), his wife Beryl (Agnes Moorehead), and nurse Anne Scott (Gene Tierney), the only other Western residents. They run a hospital for the surrounding villagers, at a time when competing warlords and Communists are engaged in civil war.
O'Shea delivers his debut Sunday sermon, in both English and Chinese for his appreciative parishioners. His work among them and his respect for local customs soon earn him their respect.
Anne becomes uncomfortable as she is attracted to him. Beryl suggests to her husband that Anne be sent back to the United States, but he refuses to consider it, needing her work at the hospital. Beryl suggests that O'Shea consult with Reverend Martin, a Protestant minister at another American mission, for advice. He agrees.
When O'Shea meets Martin (Robert Burton), he makes a startling, unsolicited confession. He says he is not a Catholic priest, but Jim Carmody, an American pilot who had flown supplies over The Hump during World War II. He crashed during the war and was rescued by a local warlord, General Yang (Lee J. Cobb), becoming his trusted second-in-command ... and his prisoner. When one of Yang's soldiers killed Father O'Shea, Carmody deserted and decided to masquerade as the replacement priest. After recounting his story to Martin, Carmody writes a full account to the Catholic bishop.
General Yang tracks down Carmody, bringing an army and insisting that Carmody serve him in the internal warfare of China. Carmody proposes they settle the matter with their customary game of dice, wagering five years of loyal service against his freedom and the safety of the local villagers. After Yang loses, he coerces Carmody into playing again, this time for the future of the Protestant mission. When he loses again, Yang resigns himself to perpetuating the myth of Father O'Shea, who was saintly enough to turn aside a powerful warlord.
Before Carmody leaves the mission, he tells Anne the truth.
- Humphrey Bogart as James Carmody
- Gene Tierney as Anne Scott
- Lee J. Cobb as Mieh Yang
- Agnes Moorehead as Beryl Sigman
- E. G. Marshall as Dr. David Sigman
- Jean Porter as Mary Yin
- Carl Benton Reid as Father Cornelius
- Victor Sen Yung as John Wong
- Philip Ahn as Jan Teng
- Benson Fong as Chun Tien
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p. 249
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, 25 January 1956