I had never even heard of “We’re No Angels” prior to looking for Christmas Films online, and it kept turning up in my searches. It’s a 1955 comedy starring Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray who escape from the prison on Devil’s Island, a penal colony off the coast of French Guiana. Their escape happens at Christmas time, and they hope to steal money from an unsuspecting family in the civilian area of the island (a fabrication). So they pose as workers and soon find a store clerk willing to hire them.
They claim they can fix the roof which is in need of repairs, but of course they intend to use their vantage point to case the place so they can get cash and new clothes and finally leave the island. But the family running the store—the beautiful daughter Amelie and parents Felix and Isabelle—prove much too kind and completely broke so the crooks can’t bring themselves to harming them in anyway. It’s Christmas Eve, and the crooks are given a wonderful meal and the joy of the season by the family.
Enter the villains, Andre Tochard and his son Paul. Tochard owns the place, and is a distant cousin of the family. It’s all about the money for him, and he can’t wait to get his hands on the books to see how things are going, even though it’s Christmas Eve. The family wasn’t expecting them for a few days, so they have to rush around to get rooms ready for these two, and as we go along the three crooks see they have found their targets. Andre and Paul don’t care at all for the family—although Paul is to marry Amelie—and Bogart and pals want to help make the family’s situation better in any way they can.
It’s a comedy to be sure, and I laughed quite a few times. Bogart is spot on, and the plot is great. And through it the message of Christmas does come in to play—the crooks can’t take money from the poor and kind family, but they’ll attempt to do so from the wealthy Tochards. There’s a focus on the feasting and being together. And no, the crooks aren’t really angels—or maybe they are—I’ll let you decide at the end.
I’m giving this one:
More of the message of Christmas came through than I expected! If you haven’t seen this Christmas Classic, you really should!