I was playing around with the IMDB for “The Wrath of God” entry and came up with this review by Roger Ebert:
The Wrath of God
Release Date: 1972
Ebert Rating: **½
By Roger Ebert / Sep 18, 1972
There's a scene in a 1968 movie called "Five Card Stud" where Robert Mitchum plays a preacher with a gun hidden in his Bible. Dean Martin, who is the local terrorist, notices that Mitch has the Bible upside down. "If that IS a Bible," he says, "read it. If that ain't a Bible, drop it."
It's hard to say exactly what he is, in fact. There are a lot of things hard to figure out about "The Wrath of God." For example, where is it set? South of Mexico in the first decades of this century is a good guess. Also, why is Mitchum carrying a sub-machine gun and $58,000 in various currencies in his valise? How did everyone in this mysterious nation learn to speak English? Questions like that. There's even an Indian girl who has not spoken a word for 20 years, ever since she saw her parents murdered. When she finally does speak, it's English, which leads you to wonder whether she just kept quiet because no one would have understood her anyway.
One of the small wonderments of "The Wrath of God" is that none of these problems seem to handicap the movie very much. This is the kind of movie we don't see very often anymore: a simple, dashing tale told for sheer fun. Although it's not as good as "Beat the Devil," it has some of the same feeling that nothing matters much except keeping everyone interested.
Mitchum, who is impersonating a priest (or is he?) for reasons of his own, is brought before a firing squad with two other misplaced revolutionaries. One of them (Victor Buono) is a vast man in a white suit who looks wonderfully like Sydney Greenstreet. The other, Ken Hutchison, is an Irish patriot. The three of them are spared at the last minute and sent off to assassinate the despot of a nearby town, and from then on the plot is too complicated to summarize, or maybe even to remember.
What I do remember (she is impossible to forget) is the lovely Paula Pritchett, who was last seen emerging like a nymph from the waves in "Adrift." If there is a candidate for the American Sophia Loren, it is Miss Pritchett, who is womanly and not girlish and who has eyes that will visit you in your dreams. Yum.
She plays a fairly ridiculous role: She's the mute Indian maiden who falls forever in love with Ken Hutchison after he rescues her from a gang-rape. When she finally speaks, it is a moment of such unashamed corny melodrama that the audience finds itself in good nature.
There are a lot of moments like that in the movie. The director, Ralph Nelson, has avoided another serious and sweaty south-of-the-border action picture, and gone for the humor. The movie is thick with coincidences, one-liners, shots that never miss and shots that never hit, and the obligatory sniper in the church bell tower. Even if we've been over the ground before it's good to see that someone still knows the way.
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I visited Tom in Mexico back in 1972 for 3 weeks when he was working on The Wrath of God, Rita Hayworth's last completed movie. The first 10 days of my stay were in Guanajuato, the last 10 in Mexico City. The first morning we had breakfast with Rita. She was no longer as young as she once was, but she still looked great and had much charm. One evening we went out to dinner with her and afterwards had a nightcap with Rita in her room. Rita's idea of a nightcap was a vodka and tonic easy on the tonic, to which she kept adding from the vodka bottle to keep the glass filled. Tom and I later decided that she was drinking to give herself an excuse for not remembering, for already, as we could see in retrospect, there were signs of the encroaching Alzheimer's.
Tom probably oversaw some of the last glamor shots taken of her. He did a spread of each of the stars and would-bes, wonderfully posed on great sites at the movie location at La Luz, an old abandoned silver mining town maybe 20 miles out, but they were never used because MGM threw the film away. It wasn't all that great, but what Ralph Nelson film ever was? But it wasn't all that bad either. And what with her and Robert Mitchum in their latter years and Frank Langella, in his younger, prettier mode, playing Rita's son (!), it really deserves a decent restoration and Blu-ray release.
One night in Mexico City Tom dined out with Rita, and when they got back to her hotel, there was much excitement. The Mexican equivalent of the Academy Awards were being presented in one of the large convention halls in the hotel. Rita was tuned on. "Let's go!" Rita said. Tom replied, "But Rita, we don't have an invitation!" She looked back at him (up, actually, because she was smaller) and said, "But I am Rita Hayworth!" And Tom said, "So you are." He spoke so someone at the door, who excitedly ran up to the front of the room and whispered to the MC, who announced to the crowd the presence of a surprise guest. And she went up on the stage to a standing ovation. I wish someone would discover footage of that moment.