9 November 2001 | IRVIN8
quirky & hammy acting
Well mounted; dazzling sets, sumptuous photography.
I confess to missing bits & pieces of the movie during its showing tonight on Turner Movie Classics, so my comments might not be entirely objective. "Satan Never Sleeps" is a movie I'd heard alluded to, so thought I'd give it a go.
Further confessing, I don't usually indulge in religious movies. Somehow, one always can predict their endings. It was more for Clifton Webb, and the importance of the movie itself, that I stayed with it.
My two major complaints are Holden's mugging (a lot of 'du-u-uh'... grimacing) and the inconsistency in the actors. As to the latter, actors didn't write the story, neither their lines, so they aren't entirely to blame. As the lines are written, so they must be delivered. But hell's bells, (Weaver Lee?) lies, berates, demolishes, defiles and beats the two priests, then imprisions them. He plays flirtatious when he needs a favor, dipping his chin and deepening his dimples - and is only effective when he barks out orders.
What might have been intended as levity only struck me as indecisive.
France Nuyen is gorgeous. I wish that I knew more about her. She must be Eurasian. And she handled her implausible character shifts/inconsistencies with aplomb. She's new to me, and I was smitten.
Getting back to Webb - here is an incredible actor. Off-camera, he was as effeminate as a drag queen. But on camera, he is crisp as a new dollar bill. Effective, believable; ...a consummate actor. Every time I'm ready to chuckle at him and his well-known homosexuality, he wins me over.
Finally, movies in the early Fifties did a lot of manipulation. Consistency was never a strong point. Personally, blatant manipulation infuriates me. And "Satan Never Sleeps" is guilty as charged.