Special Features: Isolated Score Track
16 x 9
1955 / Color
Widescreen Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Limited Edition of 3,000 Units
“A flow of unusual dramatics, loaded with excitement and suspense.” —The New York Times
“Big, worthy production from Fox that looks like an all-out assault on the Oscars.” —Time Out Film Guide
DVD booklet excerpts by Julie Kirgo:
1955 was a banner year for Buddy Adler, the wunderkind producer Twentieth Century Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck had recently poached from Columbia. Adler, son of the inventor of the elevator shoe, was a World War II vet who had made a splash in Hollywood by persuading Columbia top dog Harry Cohn to turn James Jones’s controversial novel, From Here to Eternity, into the blockbuster 1953 film that would earn him an Oscar for Best Picture. In 1955, Fox would release no less than four Adler-supervised productions: Soldier of Fortune, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, House of Bamboo, and The Left Hand of God, all prime examples of the producer’s obsession with sweeping stories of conflict and romance, set against tantalizing Asian locales, and involving one form or another of illicit or “forbidden” love. If a producer can be an auteur (Val Lewton, anyone?), then Buddy Adler was certainly the author of this clutch of similarly themed and styled “Foxotica.”
Adler’s war experiences were the key to his movie oeuvre; like other servicemen—and women—he was haunted by memories of the lands he had come to conquer, but which had, in some strange imaginative way, conquered him. In his efforts to make pictures that would reflect the lives of Americans caught in the heat of war and passion, he was drawn, again and again, to material like The Left Hand of God, a 1951 book by William E. Barrett (author, also, of Lilies of the Field) that had been bouncing around Hollywood for several years, with various writers (William Faulkner did a draft), directors (Howard Hawks came and went), and actors (both Kirk Douglas and Gregory Peck were, at different times, announced to star) attached. The difficulty, perhaps, lay in the improbability of Barrett’s tale: in 1947, with China torn by civil war, Jim Carmody, a tough American soldier of fortune, escapes the wrath of a Chinese warlord by hiding out in a remote mission settlement, assuming the identity of a slain priest; complicating matters is Carmody’s dangerous attraction to the mission nurse, a widow and devout Catholic who finds herself tormented by the taboo feelings stirred in her by this putative man of the cloth.
Here, of course, were all the ingredients most prized by Adler: the exotic setting, the backdrop of war, the soupçon of forbidden romance. Handily dealing with production code qualms about a layman impersonating a priest by promising that the character of Carmody would not be shown conducting mass, hearing confession, or performing any other major sacred rituals, Adler commissioned a new script by Alfred Hayes (Oscar-nominated for co-writing Roberto Rossellini’s Paisan, and the screenwriter, as well, of two Fritz Lang classics, Clash By Night and Human Desire) and hired Edward Dmytryk to direct. Dmytryk was, notoriously, one of the original Hollywood Ten, sent to prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Committee on Un-American Activities; after a few months behind bars, he offered to testify, named names, and—although shunned forever after by many of his former colleagues—soon regained his foothold in Hollywood with The Caine Mutiny (1954).
For the complete notes see the DVD booklet!