Set in war-torn 1947 China, the Left Hand of God sees Humphrey Bogart as a gruff priest struggling against a warlord played by Lee J. Cobb.
The film proffers several unusual sights, including Bogart in color (he only made a handful of color films), Bogart on horseback (he looks surprisingly comfortable), and Lee J. Cobb made up as a Chinese warlord. It’s that last one that really hurts the movie.
The film’s first half works well. Bogart’s engaging as a troubled priest. Gene Tierney is passable the female lead, and the great production values give the story a heightened sense of gravitas.
Then—just when the film seems poised to make a statement about faith and identity—it trots out Lee J. Cobb made up as a Chinese warlord. In doing so, it destroys its credibility. Though he’s nowhere near as over the top, Cobb still brings to mind Boris Karloff in West of Shanghai.
Despite this near-fatal stumble, The Left Hand of God remains entertaining, thanks to its brief 87 minute running time, great cinematography, and Bogart’s ample charisma.