Cast & Crew
In the 1920s in a Latin American republic torn apart by a revolution, impoverished Irishman Emmet Keogh is coerced by unscrupulous Englishman Mr. Jennings into driving a truck carrying bootlegged whiskey into the country. On the road, Keogh runs into American priest Oliver Van Horne, whose fancy Jaguar car has sustained a flat tire. Van Horne gratefully accepts Keogh's assistance and informs him he is on a fund-raising tour for the Church. Later that afternoon, Keogh arrives at his destination where Luis Delgado who, unknown to Keogh, is a cohort of the head of the revolutionary forces, Colonel Santilla, meets him at a bar. After Delgado shows Keogh the dead body of his contact, his men drag a native woman into the bar. Outraged by their rough treatment of the woman, Keogh comes to her defense but is quickly overcome by Delgado's drunken men who attempt to hang him. The men are startled by the abrupt arrival of Van Horne who pulls out a machine-gun from his large travel bag and turns it on Delgado and his men. After the native woman cuts Keogh down, the bartender explains that she is Chela, a mute Aymara native who has not spoken since witnessing the brutal murder of her parents when she was a child. Reluctantly agreeing to take Chela with them as a guide, Van Horne and Keogh flee, but are soon pursued and captured by Santilla's troops. At the army garrison Chela is released to her people and the men are immediately imprisoned. Keogh is stunned to find Jennings in their cell, and the sergeant reveals that his truck was not loaded with whiskey, but rifles, pistols and grenades destined for the counter-revolutionary local dictator, Tomas De La Plata. The next morning the men are taken to a bullfighting ring to be executed, but instead are presented to Santilla, who informs them that he knows about each of them: Jennings is only one alias used by the con-artist Englishman who has pulled scams in numerous countries; Keogh is a former hit man for an Irish political assassination group called The Squad and Van Horne has stolen more than $50,000 claimed in the name of the Catholic Church. Santilla concludes that the men are a perfect team to assassinate the notorious De La Plata and has arranged for Jennings and Keogh to impersonate representatives from a mining firm and visit De La Plata at his ranch near the town of Mojada. Van Horne will accompany them as a much-needed priest in the religion-repressed region. Faced with accepting the assignment or execution, the men agree. Later, Keogh runs into Chela and the Aymara tribal chief, Nacho, who thanks Keogh for her rescue. The next day, when the three men arrive at the Mojada hotel, proprietor Carlos Moreno is shocked to see Van Horne and, declaring that priests and their supporters are killed on sight, refuses him a room. Undaunted, Van Horne goes to the long abandoned church that houses several farm animals. That evening, De La Plata's henchmen escort Jennings and Keogh to meet De La Plata at a cockfight. Later, over dinner at his home they meet De La Plata's pious mother and discuss reopening a long-abandoned silver mine to shore up their finances. Upon learning that the men have brought a priest to Mojada, De La Plata is incensed and declares that he will not be allowed to stay. When Keogh and Jennings meet with Van Horne that evening, he suggests accompanying them to the mine in order to bless it. The following morning at the mine, De La Plata's top henchman, Jurado, threatens Van Horne, but Señora De La Plata intervenes, claiming that she asked the priest to bless the mine. Soon after the mine is examined, there is a cave-in and Van Horne risks his life to remain with a trapped, dying villager. After Jennings pulls Van Horne from the debris, the priest announces a mass for the next morning, knowing that this action will bring De La Plata to him. Van Horne and Keogh arrange to lure De La Plata inside the church where they will each have a firearm. The next morning before the mass, De La Plata rides his horse directly into the church, but just as Van Horne reaches for his gun, Señora De La Plata arrives and demands that her son spare the priest. Frustrated, De La Plata complies, but relates to Van Horne that he loathes priests because two years earlier, the corrupt village padre did not intervene when his father was tortured and murdered and his sister assaulted. After De La Plata orders Van Horne to leave Mojada by the next morning, Señora De La Plata asks Van Horne to hear her confession. Afterward, in another attempt to lure De La Plata to him, Van Horne announces that he will conduct a processional to pray for the village. Later that day, after Moreno reveals that the villagers live in sin as no one has baptized their children or blessed marriages in two years, Van Horne wearily agrees to conduct communion and baptisms throughout the night. At dawn, Keogh is startled to awaken in Chela's hut with his hands and feet bound, in her attempt to keep him from helping Van Horne. Keogh insists he must go and despite Chela's cry of "No," she allows him to depart. At the church, a drunken, armed Jennings takes up his position in the bell tower while Keogh hides beside a nearby well. When De La Plata and his men arrive, a shootout ensues, killing numerous of De La Plata's men. Although wounded, De La Plata is able to escape. A little later, a beaten Nacho arrives to inform Van Horne that De La Plata has taken Chela and several others hostage to force Van Horne's surrender. When Van Horne begins packing to flee, Keogh wonders if he is a real priest and insists that he not let down the recently blessed villagers. Van Horne explains that upon finishing seminary, he quickly discovered that the church did not want their representatives to aggravate wealthy supporters, and his increasing defiance eventually brought about his excommunication. Keogh demands Van Horne remain a priest, but the men's argument is interrupted by the arrival of Jurado with Pablito, a little boy who has grown attached to Van Horne while assisting him during the all-night service. Vowing that De La Plata will kill one hostage each hour until Van Horne surrenders, Jurado shoots Pablito and promises Chela will be next. After praying over Pablito's body, Van Horne goes to De La Plata's ranch carrying a pistol in his hollowed-out bible and a knife in the base of a crucifix. At the ranch, De La Plata lets all the hostages but Chela depart, then fools Van Horne into thinking that he has killed him, after which he orders the priest, wounded by Jurado, tied to a large stone crucifix in the middle of the courtyard. Meanwhile, Keogh and Jennings attach a long tree trunk to the Jaguar to turn it into a battering ram. When Chela does not return with the villagers, Keogh rushes to the ranch and Jennings reluctantly joins him. While the distraught Señora De La Plata prays near Van Horne, Keogh and several Aymara men, including Nacho, sneak onto the ranch and free Chela as Jennings and the villagers break down the ranch gates. A fierce gun battle develops during which Keogh is wounded, and Jennings blows himself and Jurado up with a hand grenade. De La Plata chases Keogh into the chapel to kill him, but is stunned when his mother shoots him. Staggering into the courtyard, De La Plata collapses at the base of Van Horne's stone cross that the priest then topples over onto him. After Keogh, Chela and Nacho free the bleeding Van Horne, the priest marvels at his fortune as the bells of Mojada ring out in celebration of their new freedom.
Jose Luis Parades
Ralph De Long
Lynn Del Kail
William S. Gilmore Jr.
Alex Phillips Jr.
John S. Poplin Jr.
Jesus G. Segade
Harry W. Tetrick
J. Terry Williams
The Wrath of God
The Wrath of God marked Mitchum's tenth film to be shot in Mexico, one of the actor's favorite locales. It was also his second movie with actress Rita Hayworth. The two had first worked together in Fire Down Below (1957). But by 1971, when The Wrath of God was filmed, Rita Hayworth was in a state of semi-retirement at the age of fifty-three and fighting the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease.
At the time Mitchum thought Hayworth would be perfect for The Wrath of God and called her up, reportedly joking, "Hey, how'd you like to come down to Mexico and play my mother?" (Hayworth was actually a year younger than Mitchum). Once the actress stopped laughing, she agreed to take the part; it was actually the role of Langella's mother that she'd be playing.
Because she hadn't been working, Hayworth was also having financial difficulties during this period. She'd had to rent out her house behind the Beverly Hills Hotel and move to a less expensive Brentwood home. It was at this house that The Wrath of God director Ralph Nelson called on Hayworth to discuss the script. He found her sitting in total darkness.
Once filming began, Hayworth made friends with hairstylist Lynn Del Kail on the set of The Wrath of God and admitted being upset about having to work. Del Kail remembers the actress crying one day and saying "that it was a shame she had this beautiful house and couldn't live it in."
Sadly, money wasn't Hayworth's biggest problem on the set of The Wrath of God. Her health and mental state had deteriorated to the point that she was barely able to function. As Del Kail put it, "her memory was just gone." She could not remember her dialogue and it got so bad they had to film her one line at a time. Hayworth eventually asked Del Kail for help with the script. The hairstylist would go over a line, send Hayworth out to shoot it and then they would move on to the next line. Director Nelson recalls that even having the script in front of her did little to help. Hayworth would have "total memory lapses" that were not confined to acting.
Along with memory loss, Hayworth was becoming increasingly nervous. She was extremely picky about how fast her chauffeurs drove, and according to Nelson, one driver quit after the actress insisted he drive 10 mph. Hayworth complained of claustrophobia and disliked riding in elevators. This fear led to a troubling incident on the set of The Wrath of God. Hayworth, who had always been known as a consummate professional, refused to perform a scene set in a cave. The scene only required the actress to take a few steps into the cave, but Hayworth was unwilling to try it. Del Kail finally had to put on a wig and act as Rita's double.
With a little help, Hayworth managed to get through The Wrath of God. She was hesitant to accept any more film offers, since the experience in Mexico clearly revealed her limitations. But when a friend agreed to accompany her to London to film Tales That Witness Madness (1973), Hayworth accepted. Unfortunately, her behavior was erratic from the start. The star, according to friend Curtis Roberts, no longer seemed able to "face that camera." She complained of strange ailments, had violent outbursts and eventually ran away from the set and back to America with a man she called an "Armenian rug peddler."
It was a sad ending for the pin up girl/actress/dancer/star. Kim Novak ended up replacing Hayworth in Tales That Witness Madness, making The Wrath of God Rita's final film. She would not work in movies again. Rita Hayworth died on May 14, 1987 at age 68.
Producer: Peter Katz, Ralph Nelson
Director: Ralph Nelson
Screenplay: Ralph Nelson, based on a novel by James Graham
Production Design: John S. Poplin Jr.
Cinematography: Alex Phillips, Jr.
Editing: Richard Bracken, J. Terry Williams, Albert P. Wilson
Music: Lalo Schifrin
Cast: Robert Mitchum (Van Horne), Frank Langella (Tomas De La Plata), Rita Hayworth (Senora De La Plata), John Colicos (Col. Santilia), Victor Buono (Jennings), Ken Hutchison (Emmet), Paula Pritchett (Chela), Victor Eberg (Delgado).
by Stephanie Thames
The Wrath of God
The Wrath of God was Rita Hayworth's last completed movie. She had difficulty remembering her lines. Crew believed the cause was too much alcohol. Only later did they realize they were probably seeing the early stages of her Alzheimers condition.
Ralph Nelson's onscreen credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." A February 1971 Daily Variety news item indicated that London's Cineman Films, Ltd. (comprised of Stanley Mann, John Kohn and Peter Katz) had acquired rights to James Graham's novel The Wrath of God before its publication. In March 1971, Hollywood Reporter noted that Nelson had acquired the novel's rights in association with Cineman and had signed John Briley to write the screenplay. By July 1971, Daily Variety reported that Nelson had signed Clair Huffaker to write the script. Ultimately, Nelson himself received sole screen credit for the script, and the contributions by Briley or Huffaker to the released film have not been determined. Nelson also appeared in a bit role in the film.
In early January 1972, Hollywood Reporter stated that production had temporarily halted due to an injury to actor Ken Hutchison ("Emmet Keogh"), who had fractured his arm. A January 12, 1972 Variety article quoted Nelson as stating that production had stopped two days before Christmas and he understood that Hutchison had put his hand through a glass pane at his hotel. Although the article stated that the actor might need from three weeks to two months to recuperate, a January 28, 1972 Variety item noted that location filming was completed in Guanajuato, Mexico and would be resuming with interiors at Estudios Churubusco.
Although the novel was set in Mexico, the location of the story is not mentioned in the film. Some reviews refer to the location as Central or South America. The Aymara natives, of which "Chela" and "Nacho" are members, have been situated in the South American Andes for more than 2,000 years, in what is now Bolivia. According to the Los Angeles Times review, The Wrath of God was cited by the American Humane Association for alleged misuse of horses.
The Wrath of God marked the final film appearance of actress Rita Hayworth. Biographies indicate that although Hayworth went several years improperly diagnosed, she was likely already suffering from the memory-deteriorating Alzheimer's disease by the early 1970s, making it difficult for her to continue acting. Hayworth ultimately died from the effects of the disease in 1987.
Released in United States 1972
Rita Hayworth died in New York City May 14, 1987.
Released in United States 1972