Johnny Nobody (1961) Priest Nigel Patrick Investigates Blasphemy & Divine Intervention

James Ronald Mulcahy (William Bendix) was a successful author. Was this quiet and quaint Irish village actually his birth place? I wasn’t sure. He was an American, maybe the returning prodigal son? With his newest book flying off the shelves he had money to flash. To the dismay of the local residents he had decided to settle within the community and they weren’t practically best pleased. James Mulchay’s mouth was as big as his personality, HUGE!. A thuggish man, large and obnoxious. You see, the village was centered around the parish church and the locals were all God-fearing Catholics. Mulchay’s book on the other hand was centered directly against the Church and the belief of an all seeing and powerful God. He was an atheist and extremely opinionated about it. You didn’t need to ask him or listen to him, he would bulldoze his thoughts onto you as loud as he possibly could. So one thing you didn’t want to see was James Mulchay matching down the road heading for the local pub. Sober he was unbearable but filled with whisky he became the most loathsome, offensive, man on Earth.

The landlord had barred him many times. Mulchay didn’t care. He orders a whiskey. The landlord refuses. He reached for the bottle and slaps some cash on the table. The pubs patrons look on, knowing what was to come. When he arrived at the local pub you could see the fear on their faces of what had become a recurring scene of events. Knowing full well that when the booze hits his stomach the shouting and offensive blasphemy will begin, tenfold. Sacrilege and profanity would drive these normally happy drinkers to the wild side. They had to group together to teach this atheist that he wasn’t welcome disrespecting their beliefs. Hollering, loud, drunken words created a ruckus as the warring group centered around this one man. Attacking from all corners they tried to teach him a lesson. However, he just got fired up more, enjoying every second if the riot he made. Like a fullback he bashed his way through, lashing out at the locals, whilst still shouting blasphemous comments and phrases. “Get Father Carey!” someone shouted as the crowd scrummed it’s way to the church at the center of town. When word arrives to Father Carey (Nigel Patrick) he sighs “Oh not again! Look I’m a priest not a policemen.” Before setting off to try clear up the mess for the umpteenth time.

Local Lady –Shame on you and your blaspheming tongue it’s a wonder how it doesn’t wither in your mouth!

Mulchay –Who’s to make it wither? YOUR GOD? You superstitious fools. I tell you there is no God. I set out to enjoy myself today and by the suffering Moses I have. I had the laugh of my life. You’ll the biggest set of clowns I ever put eyes on.

Father Carey –Why don’t you go home and sober up Mulchay and leave these decent men and women in peace.

Mulchay –I take no orders from you or any man!

Father Carey –You might not believe yourself but you might respect the beliefs of others?

Mulchay –Beliefs? Superstition you mean? I despise them.

Father Carey –I’m sorry for you, by heaven help you.

Mulchay –I need no help from heaven. I rely on only myself.

Villager –Stop his dirty mouth for good father!”

Father Carey –Now Michael no one is to lay a figure on him. God will punish him in his own good time.

Mulchay –You can’t frighten me with the fire of hell there is no hell or heaven. Neither is there a God!

Father Carey –You don’t know what you are saying.

Mulchay –I do and I’ll say it again. There is no God! And if there is one then strike me dead. He knows everything doesn’t he? He hears everything? He supposed to know every sparrow that falls to the ground. Alright then if he is so almighty then…..


In fact I’d say if he didn’t send a lightning bolt or two I’d say it was decided negligence on his part, wouldn’t you? Let’s see if we can persuade him a little.


Will God send down a volley of lightning bolts to teach this loud and obnoxious, blaspheming man a lesson? To strike him down at the very gates of the church he stands. Will he show his all powerful wrath and punish this man for his sins? Or would he use other means like divine intervention? To whatever event is to transpire on those steps of Father Carey’s church, it will begin with a trip to the City of Dublin and the beginning of a grand court case. A case Father Carey finds himself deeply embroiled in as he investigates his own findings for the court. Could he unravel this celestial conundrum?

A Few Things…

  • Johnny Nobody was the star, Nigel Patrick’s second film in the director chair. A comedy crime thriller starring himself, Charles Coburn and Wendy Hiller in How to Murder a Rich Uncle (1957) was his first.
  • Is it just me or does Nigel Patrick have a bit of a Bill Murray look about him?
  • The film is based on a story by Albert Z. Carr called The Trial of Johnny Nobody. I just looked up the author and read he was an economist and a consultant to two Presidents, Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry S Truman.
  • Nigel Patrick and Yvonne Mitchell had worked together before on the truly brilliant Basil Dearden crime thriller centered around race, which I have reviewed if you fancy a look, Sapphire (1959)
  • A standout little part comes from Dublin born Noel Purcell who plays Brother Timothy. He’s so happy to see his old friend Father Casey and is determined to get him down in the cellar to try his new homebrew beer. I’d of taken up Brother T on his offer, I bet it tasted divine.
  • Aldo Ray plays the mysterious man going by the movie title name of Johnny Nobody. Aldo Ray was very new to me when I started my movie site. With the excellent Men In War (1957) starring Robert Ryan leading me on to Nightfall (1956) that got me intrigued to him.
  • There’s a bit part from Bernie Winters as a photographer. Bernie was famous to many Brits for his adorable comedy partner. The St Bernard dag called Schnorbitz.

Wrapping it up…

Swamp bogs, reporters, Romany gypsies, home brewing priests, running, lots of running and investigating priest. Johnny Nobody turns into a sort of The 39 Steps (1935). It’s a very enjoyable watch. You never really know where you are with it even though it’s not a complicated story. It runs from A to B and back again well. William Bendix is his usual boorish excellent self and a joy to watch in his small role. Aldo Ray doesn’t do a lot. It was nice to be seeing Yvonne Mitchell again after recently watching Turn the Key Softly (1953) but best of all I really like Nigel Patrick. So many films of his I really adore. The League of Gentlemen (1960) and these three great ones I did reviews of The Informers (1963) Sapphire (1959) and The Browning Version (1951) are all highly recommended. Feel free to recommend more to me.

Wolfman Rating? 7.5 blaspheming outbursts outta 10

The problem with Johnny Nobody is trying to watch it! For some reason it hasn’t had a DVD release and I don’t know if the networks have picked it up? I guess it fell into public domain? However, like with many that do fail to renew their copyright license they normally find themselves on YouTube. If like me you are desperate to see it then you can buy a DVD-R on Ebay for a few quid at the time of writing.

Keep it all filmy


2 thoughts on “Johnny Nobody (1961) Priest Nigel Patrick Investigates Blasphemy & Divine Intervention

  1. A William Bending flick I’m not familiar with? And Aldo Ray? I’m gonna have to track it down.
    By the way if you haven’t seen Ray’s The Naked and the Dead, that’s another one of his great military roles/films.


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