A movie that's too sunny to be a black comedy and too stagebound to be a classic movie, WE'RE NO ANGELS may have benefited from a different director than Michael Curtiz. I say this knowing full well Curtiz was the man behind the lens for such classics as CASABLANCA, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES. Curtiz was a fine director, but a piece of material like WE'RE NO ANGELS needed somebody (Billy Wilder perhaps) with a more jaundiced point of view.
Still, WE'RE NO ANGELS manages to charm its way into your heart by the sheer versatility of its cast. Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov play three escaped convicts who plan to rob a store owner (Leo G. Carroll) only to have their hearts changed by the essential goodness of his family. Bogey proves to be a fine comic, though anyone who remembers him as a bookstore customer in THE BIG SLEEP knew this already, and Basil Rathbone revels in the part of the completely contemptible Cousin Andre, whose Christmas Eve visit threatens to disrupt everybody's lives. Best of all is Peter Ustinov, whose erudite demeanor plays perfectly against his character of a wife-beating safe cracker.
Set at Christmas, WE'RE NO ANGELS is a holiday favorite for some movie fans, who can overlook all its talk of murder, head-bashing and poisonous snake bites and instead enjoy the great performances by all concerned. ½ - JB
ADD ANOTHER QUOTE AND MAKE IT A GALLON
"We came here to rob them and that's what we're gonna do - beat their heads in, gouge their eyes out, slash their throats. Soon as we wash the dishes."
We're No Angels (1989 - with Robert De Niro and Sean Penn. Same title, but new script by David Mamet)