Wrath of God, The (1972): Ralph Nelson’s Trashy Western, Starring Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella, and Rita Hayworth in her Final Performance

Ralph Nelson helmed The Wrath of God, a trashy, violent offveat Western, starring Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella, Rita Hayworth and Victor Buono.

Our Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

The film is a lighthearted, borderline exploitation adaptation of the western noir novel The Wrath of God written by Harry Patterson and published under the pseudonym of James Graham in 1971 (and later as Jack Higgins).

Robert Mitchum plays Father Oliver Van Horne, a bank robber dressed like a Roman Catholic priest.  Spared from a firing squad in 1922 in an unnamed Central America nation resembling Mexico in the Cristero War, he is sent to kill a local desperado.

Lalo Schifrin’s jazzy Latin-tinged soundtrack score elevates the proceedings up to a point of a Western defined by incoherent narrative and B-level plot .

The film marks the final screen appearance of Rita Hayworth (in a secondary role), whose health worsened as a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.

Nelson’s B Wsetern should not be confused with Werner Herzog’s acclaimed film Aguirre, the Wrath of God, which was released the same year.

Robert Mitchum as Father Oliver Van Horne
Frank Langella as Tomas de la Plata
Rita Hayworth as Senora de la Plata
Victor Buono as Jennings
Ken Hutchison as Emmet Keogh
Paula Pritchett as Chela
José Luis Parades as Pablito


Produced and directed by Ralph Nelson
Written by Jack Higgins ad Ralph Nelson
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography: Alex Phillips, Jr.
Edited by J. Terry Williams
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date: July 14, 1972
Running time: 111 minutes