Cast & Crew
During World War II, Rachel Cade, a young missionary nurse, arrives at a dilapidated hospital mission in a remote part of the Congo. The inept, defeated head of the hospital dies, but Rachel decides to stay on despite the advice of the cynical Belgian administrator, Col. Henri Derode. With patience and sympathy, she works among the natives and tries to get them to accept the Christian way of life. After successfully performing an appendectomy on a native child, she wins the trust of some of the villagers, and her little hospital is soon filled with patients. One night, after watching a sensuous fertility dance, Rachel almost succumbs to the advances of Derode. Then an RAF plane crashes in the vicinity; and the pilot, an American named Paul Wilton, is brought to the mission. During his long convalescence they fall in love; and as his departure grows near, Rachel, unable to restrain her desires, submits to his lovemaking. After Paul has left, Derode learns that Rachel is pregnant. Sensing that she never told Paul about the baby, Derode wires the information to Boston, where Paul has become an established society doctor. Derode then asks to be transferred to the battle front. Paul returns to the Congo and offers to take Rachel and the baby back with him; but Rachel perceives that it is pride rather than love that motivates his actions, and she sends him away. Remaining in the Congo to continue her missionary work, she prays with the natives for the safe return of the combat troops, realizing that Derode's love for her is selfless.
Ralph S. Hurst
Leo K. Kuter
J. Peverell Marley
Francis M. Stahl
The Sins of Rachel Cade
Tagline for The Sins of Rachel Cade
Although his work with John Ford brought Woody Strode less stereotypical roles than those available to most African-American actors in early '60s Hollywood, it was pretty much back to business as usual when he was among an amazing ensemble of black performers cast as natives in need of salvation courtesy of missionary nurse Angie Dickinson in the 1961 romance, The Sins of Rachel Cade. At least the film allowed the native characters a point of view and sympathetic reasons for resisting the title character's preaching. But the focus was less on cultural clashes in the last days of Africa's colonial occupation than on the leading lady's romantic entanglements with a cynical doctor (Peter Finch) and a downed American flyer (Roger Moore) who leaves her pregnant.
Originally RKO had bought the rights to Charles Mercer's novel Rachel Cade in 1956, while the book was still in galley form. But though it became a best seller, the studio's plans to shoot the story on location in Africa were squelched by fading finances. With RKO ceasing production in 1958, they sold the property to Warner Bros., which moved it into production after the success of the very similar The Nun's Story (1959). Warner's even assigned the same producer, studio veteran Henry Blanke, and cast Finch in a similar role as the agnostic who challenges the leading lady's religious principles, including her views on chastity.
Although Warner Bros. re-created the Congo on the studio back lot, they at least assembled a prestigious team of talented veterans. Director Gordon Douglas had distinguished himself with such genre classics as Them! (1954) and The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958). Writer Edward Anhalt had won an Oscar® for Panic in the Streets (1950) and would go on to win another for Becket (1964). Max Steiner was the studio's mainstay composer, and had just landed a spot on the hit parade with his theme for A Summer Place (1959). And cinematographer J. Peverell Marley had not only transformed Ingrid Bergman, Susan Hayward and Elizabeth Taylor into movie sirens, but had married one of the screen's great beauties, Linda Darnell.
That combination of romantic composer and glamorous cinematographer points to the film's primary focus -- the love story. The Sins of Rachel Cade would provide a perfect showcase for the group of young actresses being groomed for stardom at Warner Bros. Among them were Connie Stevens and Diane McBain (Suzanne Pleshette would sign on the following year), but it was Dickinson, who had scored a hit as the dance-hall girl in Rio Bravo (1959), who won the role. Joining her and Finch for the romantic triangle was British actor Roger Moore, years before he became The Saint on television or James Bond in the movies. He had been working at MGM, then switched to Warner's, neither of which ever found the right niche for his good looks and devil-may-care attitude.
In retrospect, however, the real heat in the film's casts is generated by the impressive assemblage of African-American actors cast as the Congolese natives. Joining Strode were Errol John, later a member of the Old Vic in England, Juano Hernandez -- who became a legend as the proud, angry accused killer in Intruder in the Dust (1949), a performance many see as paving the way for Sidney Poitier's stardom -- Frederick O'Neal, a pioneering civil rights activist and one of the creators of the black theatre movement, musician turned actor Scatman Crothers and Rafer Johnson, who, like Strode, had been an Olympic decathlete.
In 1961, however, most of the focus went to the romantic story and the stars of The Sins of Rachel Cade. The film was not well received by reviewers, though most looked favorably on Dickinson's performance. She would finish her Warner's contract with an "other woman" role in Rome Adventure (1962). Although she worked steadily after that, it would not be until she starred in the classic '70s series Police Woman that she would reach the height of her popularity, nor would she demonstrate her full potential as an actress until Brian De Palma cast her as the bitter, aging wife and mother in Dressed to Kill (1980).
Producer: Henry Blanke
Director: Gordon Douglas
Screenplay: Edward Anhalt
Based on the novel Rachel Cade by Charles E. Mercer
Cinematography: J. Peverell Marley
Art Director: Leo K. Kuter
Music: Max Steiner
Principal Cast: Angie Dickinson (Rachel Cade), Peter Finch (Col. Henri Derode), Roger Moore (Paul Wilton), Errol John (Kulu), Woody Strode (Muwango), Juano Hernandez (Kalanumu), Frederick O'Neal (Buderga), Mary Wickes (Marie Grieux), Scatman Crothers (Musinga), Rafer Johnson (Kosongo).
by Frank Miller
The Sins of Rachel Cade
Also known as Rachel Cade. A January 8, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item states that the novel Rachel Cade on which the film was based was a Literary Guide selection and ran as a serial in the Woman's Home Companion prior to the film's production. RKO bought the novel from galley proofs in 1956 for production by Stanley Rubin, who was later replaced by Henry Blanke. According to a January 24, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, Rubin considered Stirling Silliphant for the film's writer and confered about the film with writer/lecturer Rene Gabin, who spent over ten years in the Belgian Congo; however, onscreen credits list Edward Anhalt as the screenwriter.The film was to be shot in Africa in the summer of 1957, but the location has not been confirmed.
Released in United States Spring April 1961
Rafer Johnson is the Olympic Gold Medalist.
Released in United States Spring April 1961