Joseph (Humphrey Bogart), Albert (Aldo Ray) and Jules (Peter Ustinov) are three prison escapees who have made their way to a small town on the coast of France.
They plan on taking a ship to another location where they’ll be free from the searching eyes of the prison they’ve escaped from, but in order to do that they must find money and respectable clothes.
The trio makes plans to rob a store for these essentials, pretending that they’re there to fix the roof. But when they realize that the Ducotel family (Gloria Talbott, Leo G. Carroll and the always lovely Joan Bennett), who run the shop, are in dire financial straits the men have a change of plans.
Rather than stealing from the Ducotels, the three convicts decide to spend Christmas with them and help solve their problems.
Michael Curtiz directs 1955’s We’re No Angels.
This is far from your typical holiday film. It follows criminals in a snow-free land, stealing stuff and hiding from the law before they have a change of heart. There are no frosted windows or horse-drawn sleigh rides to be found here.
Though unconventional, We’re No Angels is still a wonderful holiday film because it deals with a theme that is ever-popular during the holidays: helping others. The message of selflessness is one that we all like to remind ourselves of during this season.
Though the three central characters of the film are convicts they’re all still very likable. It’s clear that they have good hearts under those tough exteriors.
Humphrey Bogart in particular is a delight to watch as he shows off his sense of comedy. I love Bogie’s hard-boiled dramas as much as the next classic film fan, but it is unexpectedly hilarious roles such as this which remind me of what a great actor was. He had a whole lot of talent and could pull off a variety of genres with that talent. Diverse performances are one of the many reasons I’m such a big fan of him.
The plot itself is interesting, mixing family drama with business, crime and even a little bit of romance. There is a bit of slowness to it, but not so much that it loses the viewer, and the mix of genres works well.
We’re No Angels is not as memorable as some of Bogart’s other work, but it’s still a nice watch, for the holiday season or at any time of year. The score: 3.5/5
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