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Satan Never Sleeps
Satan Never Sleeps
Actors: William Holden, Clifton Webb, France Nuyen, Athene Seyler, Martin Benson
Director: Leo McCarey
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2005     2hr 5min

A priest arrives at a mission post in china accompanied by a young native girl who has joined him along the way. His job is to relieve the existing priest who is too old & weak to continue with the upkeep of the church. Wh...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: William Holden, Clifton Webb, France Nuyen, Athene Seyler, Martin Benson
Director: Leo McCarey
Creators: Oswald Morris, Leo McCarey, Gordon Pilkington, Cecil F. Ford, Claude Binyon, Pearl S. Buck
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Religion
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/22/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 5min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Peter Q. (Petequig)
Reviewed on 1/26/2011...
An old classic with a theme of Religion vs Communism....still going on today.
Great acting that actually tells a special effects.

Movie Reviews

An exercise in temptation and sexual frustration.
Mr. T | San Diego, CA USA | 06/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Poor William Holden! He never got to make a romantic movie with the beautiful France Nuyen! He almost made "The World of Susie Wong" with her, but she got pulled and the equally gorgeous Nancy Kwan was substituted. Here in "Satan Never Sleeps", France is totally in love with William Holden, but unfortunately for her (and him) he is a Catholic Priest. Williams character goes through some big struggles with temptation but never gives up his vows. Just when he seems to be at the breaking point, an event happens that changes the life of France's character and their relationship. Not a romantically satisfying movie at all. But, I like both Holden's and France's performances so it was worth seeing. You will see more great footage of France Nuyen in this film than any other. She is at her beauty prime!"
Kay's Husband | Virginia, U.S.A. | 10/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)


The movie SATAN NEVER SLEEPS and the mass market paperback from Pocket Books, Cardinal edition #C429, were both released in 1962. The movie opened in New York City on Febrary 22, 1962, in what would be Clifton Webb's final motion picture. It was also one of only two movies that Webb made without his trademark mustache.

Pearl Buck was one of the two writers of the script, she knew China well, eventually earning a Masters degree and working as a missonary in China during the years 1914-1933. She was tutored in Chinese with English becoming her second language. Her parents had been Presbyterian missonaires before her with Pearl living in several cities in China including Nanking, Shanghai, and a small rural village named Suzhon, which must have resembled the village of SATAN NEVER SLEEPS. Buck, a Phi Beta Kappa, eventually went on to receive the Pulizer Prize in 1932 and the first American woman writer in 1938 to receive a Nobel Prize in literature.

She and her family were eyewitnesses to at least one shooting battle between Chang Kai-Sheks troops, Communist forces, and assorted warlords in 1927, a battle in which several westerners were killed. At one point, Buck and her family had to go into hiding due to the neumerous bullets that were flying around. Conditions in China continued to be dangerous up to and even after the 1945 Communist uprising.

The movie, SATAN NEVER SLEEPS, carries several issues that Pearl Buck saw and lived through during her earlier life in China. Especially the issue of tug of war between Christianity and aetheism. She also would have lived among the peasants of that time no doubt sharing many episodes that the movie portrays. Whether a viewer appreciates this movie or not it represents a story that has many elements of truth and would have been one not completely objective to Pearl Buck. Her script helps bring sobering reality to the events pictured on the movie screen.

I first saw the movie in 1962 shortly before shipping out to Japan where I was to serve on a military base between Tokyo and Yokohama. I later found out from one of Pearl's books on Japan that she too had lived in that area of the Tokaido Road on one of her family's return trip from China.

The movie remains one of my favorites though I cannot exactly say why, for it is a movie with much travail and human suffering. And to this day China is still a land of much travail. But be that as it may, the movie is one I have watched many times. Maybe it is the dialogue between Holden and Webb, maybe it because in the end, though many innocents have died, the 'devil' returns to the church and represents all the good that must yet remain in China. No doubt about it, it is a film that will leave most watchers with many thoughts and impressions.

Semper Fi."
Searing Indictment of Red China
MARGOT SHEEHAN | Gotham City | 02/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When I came across the DVD release of this film I was surprised at how recently it was made. I saw the film a number of times many years ago (not always on television) and vaguely imagined it dated from the early Fifties. I was also surprised to find it was made by Leo McCarey, who is mostly known for his popular comedies starring the Marx Brothers or a cassock-clad Bing Crosby.

Because it is a story of Catholic missionaries, the plot appears superficially to be a tale of conflict between the earnest, civilized Christian West and the cruel, backwards, self-satisfied Asiatics who regard the Westerners as 'barbarians.' Cultural historians might also describe the film as part of the late-50s/early-60s propaganda campaign designed to encourage American military support of the (Catholic, Westernized) South Vietnamese. However, if the film were no more than all this it would have no relevance today, when Red China has changed its trappings but is mightier than ever. The moral void at the center of the Red Chinese soul is not something than can be described by trade statistics or industrial output or the type of consumer goods now available to office workers in Shanghai. It is a fundamentally a religious problem. The film is more than an allegory, and the Satan in the title is not a figure of speech."