Harry Belafonte: The World the Flesh and the Devil
If you’ve never seen The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (Amazon dvd link) from 1959, don’t feel too badly. It’s a very difficult movie to find on tv and the dvd isn’t too easy to find either… but, my goodness, is it ever worth the effort.
Harry Belafonte does a phenomenal job in this film (as he does in all his films). He stars as Ralph Burton, a trapped miner who frees himself only to find that all of humanity has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust.
Or has it?
He travels to New York City only to find it seemingly deserted.
The movie is at its absolute best when it is just Harry Belafonte’s Ralph – all alone in the world. It’s amazing just how entertaining it is to watch these scenes. It’s so enjoyable, in fact, that you kind of resent the other two characters showing up – especially Mel Ferrer’s jerk character Benson. Inger Stevens (Sarah) is likable enough to forgive her for intruding on Ralph’s world, but not Mel.
In fact, after he had been on the scene for just 3 minutes, I was yelling, “Why did you have to survive?!” at the tv. What can I say, I get into my movies – plus it entertains the cats, so it’s a win-win.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie is still good even after these two show up… BUT it is a perfect 10 before they arrive… a solid 9-1/2 after Inger arrives.. and a solid 8 when oh what’s-his-name comes dragging along. It’s not Mel Ferrer’s fault, mind you – great, great actor. It’s just that his character is about as likable as a two week stent with a stomach virus, topped off with pneumonia, pink eye, and a fractured kneecap.
Oh yeah, he’s a joy.
Having said all of that, I still give this movie a HUGE thumb’s up and a very high recommendation. Harry Belafonte is such an excellent actor and is always so compelling to watch – I’m honestly shocked he hasn’t been given the chance to headline more films. Inger Stevens is also a beautiful and talented actress and their chemistry is outstanding.
Until “he” shows up like a bucket of ice water on a fire the viewers are very much enjoying.
Movies From the 1950s
Many people who are fans of “Old Hollywood” tend to pick a decade (sometimes two) to focus on. Experience has taught me that (with obvious exceptions) there are a couple of “main” camps in the Old Hollywood crowd:
- those who love the ’30s
- those who love the ’40s
- those who love silent films
- those who love the ’30s and ’40s
- those who love silents and the ’30s
- those who love the 50s
- those who love the 60s
- those who love the 50-60s
- those who love the 70s
Very few of us seem to love, embrace, and pretty much obsess over everything from silents through the 70s. I recently saw a poll on Twitter that asked you to name your favorite decade of films. NO WAY! I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to three… let alone two.. and LET ALONE (all caps) one. Seriously, the best I could do would be to go with a 4-way tie (30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s) and, even then, I’d do so begrudgingly.
For whatever reasons, movies from the 50s are often overlooked and left out of the hoopla. This is a total sham and a shame because there were some amazing movies in this decade. Absolutely, the 30s-40s were glamorous and mesmerizing and the 60s were gloriously colorful and over the top… but do not, not, not ever sell the 50s short.
The films they left behind is as wonderful as the music they left behind.
The World, the Flesh, and the Devil is just a wonderful movie and Harry Belafonte is especially phenomenal. If you aren’t already a fan of this ridiculously talented man, you will be after this film.
I happened to already be a fan of his (thanks to his music, Bright Road and Carmen Jones – which I watch probably 6 times a year), but this movie made me an even bigger fan. He bolted up into the ranks of Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Melvyn Douglas, Henry Fonda, and Robert Montgomery for me. My mind occasionally pauses to think what could have been had he been given the roles the other gentlemen enjoyed.
But then I get the blues and have to eat cookies to snap me out of it.
Please see The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (Amazon dvd link) as soon as you can.