DEVIL AT 4 O' CLOCK
Review by Chastity Campbell
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra
Director: Mervyn Le Roy
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Features: See Review
Length: 127 Minutes
Release Date: January 14, 2003
“They jumped into hell, to save
a part of heaven!”
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
No? Well neither have
Spencer Tracy or Frank Sinatra, because they met him at 4 o’clock in the
afternoon on a bright and sunny South Pacific day!
The Devil At 4 O’clock was one of the most
entertaining movies I’ve had the pleasure of watching in a long time.
It was very refreshing to see a movie that relied more on it’s stars
and scripting, than the special effects Hollywood has more recently come to rely
Although the script itself did have some weak points,
Sinatra’s portrayal of the convict Harry and Spencer Tracy’s performance as
an alcoholic priest helped to give the film a giant boost of character that
allowed you to really sink into the story and worry right along with them as the
island they are on slowly but surely tears itself apart.
Shot almost entirely on location at a small island in the
South Pacific, The Devil At 4 O’clock begins as a sea plane
headed for Tahiti makes an overnight stop on Talua Island to drop off a new
priest who is to take over for Father Doonan, and to let the pilots take a quick
dip into the local entertainment pool, if you know what I mean!
Three convicts aboard the plane headed for a Tahitian prison are given a
momentary reprieve when Father Doonan asks for their help at a Mountain Hospital
before he leaves the island. He
needs help putting the finishing touches on a roof at the hospital, which caters
to children with leprosy. While
up on the mountain, Harry, played by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, turns on the charm
and steals a quick kiss from a blind girl, who would surely swoon if she could
look longingly into those big blue eyes of his.
This was, according to the movie trailer, the first time
Frank Sinatra and Spencer Tracy worked together. They did a marvelous job playing off of each other’s
character and helped bring out the best in each other during those parts of the
movie where the dialogue was its weakest.
The convicts spend the night on the mountain with the
priest, but early the next morning they make a break for it in the hopes of
finding a way off the island. Unfortunately
for them, a situation is brewing that will lead to a meltdown in their escape
plans. Back up on the mountain top,
Father Doonan and his replacement begin the trek back down so the old priest can
catch a plane, when they find the three convicts ready to pass out from heat
exhaustion. They give the
jailbirds a lift but almost get knocked over a cliff as the volcano erupts.
Once at the bottom of the mountain Father Doonan immediately turns his
attention to getting the children at the hospital down the mountain and off this
pressure cooker of a island! He
makes a deal with the captain of a schooner to wait for them at the harbor until
4 o’clock the next day. The seaplane drops Tracy, Sinatra, and the other two
convicts right over the hospital where they parachute in and attempt to bring
the children to safety by walking them down the mountain.
Along the way they face death, destruction, and fear of
every kind. This film was a
wonderful experience for me from start to finish.
Did everyone get off the island safe and sound, or was the devil truly
waiting when the clock struck four? The
only way to find out is to pop in this DVD and start the countdown!
I wasn’t overly impressed with Columbia Tri Star’s
effort where this film to DVD transfer was concerned. The anamorphic widescreen formatting was very pleasing
to the eye. However it was obvious
right from the opening scene that none of the modern restoration techniques for
removing dirt and graininess were utilized.
Very visible creases that transferred from the original to the digital
format only served to further my unhappiness with this digital transfer.
The vivid island colors, beautiful sets, and scenery did keep this
transfer from missing the mark totally, but not by very much.
The audio quality for this transfer was very nice and
helped give balance to other portions of the DVD. A Dolby Digital Stereo mix was
used to give this dialogue driven DVD a little kick in the pants.
The sounds were all crisp and clear with the exception of a few
explosions, which were obviously taped sound effects looped in during post
production. All the dialogue
was in sync and no obvious dubbing flaws could be detected.
All around, a pretty nice sounding disc.
For your viewing pleasure three movie trailers come in this
DVD’s bag of tricks. The Devil
At 4 O’clock, From Here To Eternity, and The Last Hurrah are a
beautiful blast from movies’ past that remind you just how far we’ve come in
a short span of time.
You definitely get a nice list of language choices with
this DVD, as the subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, and
Interactive menus, and still frame scene selection finish
off the extras for this DVD.