The Wrath of God Irish adventurer Emmett Keogh finds himself partnered with a hard-drinking priest named Van Horne in revolutionary Central America. Tricked into delivering guns by smuggler/con man Jennings, the three end up joining forces against despot Tomas de la Plata, who treats his subjects ruthlessly and who has a special hatred for priests. Van Horne, who seems to be a priest in costume only, decides to stand up to de la Plata and lead a revolt against him. They offered them a choice – THE FIRING SQUAD . . . or The Wrath of God
My take on the controversy: NOT a parody
The Wrath of God Remarkably funny western/revolutionary action pic stars Mitchum as a con artist who poses as a priest and Langella as the South American’ dictator he and his friends have been blackmailed into assassinating. Hayworth appears briefly as Langella’s tormented mother.
The action is fast and well staged, and the film’s humor is so effective that it has often been seen (mistakenly, I believe) as a spoof of its genre, rather than as the fine example it is of the genre at its best. This whole line of reasoning bothers me, because it implies that an adventure movie can’t be funny, that it has to take itself deadly serious. Much like “Duck, You Sucker!” this film’s irreverent humor is one of its main ingredients, but it does not detract from its standing as a decent action flick. It’s in fact closer to the way action pictures are made today — I would question whether the critics and fans who see this as a “parody” also think that Schwartzenegger’s “Commando” and “The Running Man” are also parodies?
As Mitchum’s character becomes more involved with Langella’s peasant village, giving them the sacrament because they haven’t seen a priest in years, he begins to BECOME the priest of his con-game, but his actions keep his friends and Langella guessing as to the extent of his “conversion.” This brings up the theme of the appearance becoming the reality, an unusual theme for a western action flick.
Good performances and an unusually good film results.
Rousing Adventure Film!