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The Devil at 4 O'clock

4.5 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A seaplane lands on the island of Talua to unload three criminals - including Harry (Academy Award(r)Winner Frank Sinatra, 1954 Best Actor in a Supporting Role, From Here to Eternity) - plus a young priest, Father Perreau (Kerwin Mathews), who has come to succeed aging, irascible Father Doonan (Academy Award(r) Winner Spencer Tracy, 1938 Best Actor in a Leading Role, Captains Courageous and 1939 Best Actor in a Leading Role, Boys Town). When an earthquake and volcanic eruption strike Talua, FatherDoonan persuades Harry to parachute with him into the mountains on a daring rescue to an isolated hospital. The party - mostly children - is menaced by landslides, forest fires, flowing lava and the near-collapse of a footbridge as they make their perilous way to safety. Tracy and Sinatra are in peak form as the unlikely heroes of this suspense-filled adventure.

Special Features

  • Scene Selections

Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Pierre Aumont, Kerwin Mathews, Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy
  • Directors: Mervyn Leroy
  • Producers: Mervyn Leroy, Fred Kohlmar
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Unknown), Portuguese (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Dubbed: Portuguese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 14, 2003
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007ELD2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,516 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Devil at 4 O'clock" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This movie was one of the orginal "disaster films," originating the genre. Actually, only part of the film was shot on Maui (mostly around Lahaina and the Maui Needle). The rest was done with some amazing soundstages. The volcano (built in the middle of a pond in Fallbrook, California) provided stock footage for many films that came after, and you'll be amazed how realistic the earthquake shots look. All this with low-tech special effects!
If you are bored or unaffected by the actual movie, you're way too jaded to be watching this human drama of an alcoholic priest whose life and vocation have lost their meaning. Go watch a blockbuster disaster flick and root for the special effects. Yeah, it's a little hokily sentimental at times, but I've shown this one to friends who marvelled at what a great story of human experience it told, got a lump in their throats at the end, etc. Then they recommended it to their friends. (Admittedly, Sinatra is NOT at his best. However, Spencer Tracy and the rest of the cast carry the movie.)
(Yes, my father was the art director, which is how I know so much about the special effects and technical aspects, but it's still one of my all-time favorite films, even discounting that.)
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Format: DVD
I first saw this movie when I was ten years old, and of all the things that have stuck with me, the beautiful theme song by George Duning has haunted me since. The story of a disillusioned priest played by Spencer Tracy is an old one, but it is acted with such fervor, it remains powerful in its concept of God, faith and hope. Tracy is as always impeccable, but Frank Sinatra seems a little disinterested in his role. Kerwin Mathews previously known for his roles in the Ray Harryhausen movies (7th Voyage of Sinbad, 3 Worlds of Gulliver) brings his solemn and gentlemanly nature to the role of Father Perreau, the young priest who is scheduled to replace Tracy. Bernie Hamilton and Gregoire Aslan turn in delightful performances as the other two prisoners; Alexander Scourby makes a good island governor; Barbara Luna is beautiful as the blind Charisse; Cathy Lewis is memorable as Marguerite; Martin Brandt makes an impression as the atheist doctor who still admires Tracy; and Jean Pierre Aumont is good as the pilot.
Though slow in spots, the volcanic eruption explodes onto the screen and the escape scene is heartwarming and suspenseful.
A very good movie!
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Format: DVD
Synopsis: A small plane headed for Tahiti carrying three convicts makes a layover on a small, volcanic South Pacific Island named Kalaua. The local Catholic priest Father Doonan (Spencer Tracy) convinces the local authorities to allow him to borrow the incarcerated trio to help with repairs at a secluded hospital for lepers during their stay. When the volcano begins to awaken the island residents are forced to evacuate Father Doonan and the convicts are the only ones brave enough to attempt a rescue of the lepers and hospital staff. Will they be able to escape the dangerous eruptions and lava and get to the docks before the schooner leaves at four o'clock? Only God knows.

Critique: The '61 film `Devil At 4 O'Clock' is one of the lesser classics of the early `60's. Spencer Tracy delivers one of his usual strong performances as the ill-tempered, disillusioned Catholic priest and Frank Sinatra rises to the occasion with one of his best on-screen performances as the hard-nosed convict Harry.

This is a surprisingly good film; the cast is superior, the dialogue intelligent and believable, the scenery breathtaking, the soundtrack memorable and the volcano magnificent. If that's not enough the film also co-stars the beautiful Barbara Luna in the role of Camille, unquestionably one of the most beautiful Hispanic actresses to ever grace the silver screen.

Footnote: Here's a little something that might be of interest to all you trivia collectors out there. Take note of the first couple of minutes of the film when the plane comes in for a landing. Did you catch the island boy running into Father Duggin's office shouting "the plane, the plane!" Now you know where little Tattoo from the popular late 70's television series `Fantasy Island' got that phrase.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This rarely-dull 1961 "disaster movie" proves the adage that Spencer Tracy never gave a bad performance in his life. Here he plays a hard-drinking Catholic missionary priest on a fictional island in French Polynesia, where he runs a parish and children's hospital populated by colorful losers. Meanwhile, Frank Sinatra plays the leader of a group of three convicts who have arrived at the island on their way to prison in Tahiti, thanks to a small plane that has landed with a younger priest to replace Tracy. Tracy takes the new priest on his rounds and enlists the convicts to help with repairs at his hospital. Then the volcano starts to cause trouble.

Beautiful color photography of the Pacific islands, quirky performances by actors in minor roles, and good special effects for its day keep this film moving along at a pretty good pace. Based on a novel, it translates a few literary conceits and melodramas to the screen, but is saved by its top-notch performances. Tracy, in a somewhat underwritten but poignant role, acts the hell out of a priest character who is far more broken than the priests he played in films like "Boys Town." His understated physical gestures and facial expressions, communicating so much hope mired in pain and anger, feel like a master class in acting. In many ways it a more nuanced and subtle performance than the early roles which won him Oscars. For his part, Sinatra works less hard but comes across authentically in his portrayal of the Korean War veteran from New Jersey, an adventurer who "missed the boat" for a normal life a long time ago. It's a pretty effortless performance for Sinatra, who is playing more of a type than a fully developed person, but it works well for the movie.
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