Tag Archives: Ranald MacDougall

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959), directed by Ranald MacDougall


Muddled message movie that takes place in a post-nuclear holocaust New York.  Harry Belafonte plays Ralph Burton, a black man with a racial chip on his shoulder, who believes he may be the last man on Earth until he meets Sarah Crandall (Inger Stevens), a white woman who soon begins to fall in love with him.  Matters are complicated when Sarah sees a boat churning up the East River; on board is Benson Thacker (Mel Ferrar), a white man who views Ralph as a rival for Sarah.  Neither man cares in the slightest what Sarah thinks about the situation.  Race is a non-issue (for everyone except Ralph), sexism is accepted as a given (except by Sarah), and all that’s left is a bland commentary on civilization and war.  Would-be allegory wastes the setting:  no dead bodies, no wild animals, no radiation effects and, with handyman Ralph on the case, no lack of power, either.  Maintains an inexplicably high rating on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.  Guess the post-apocalyptic crowd will take whatever they can get.  Written by MacDougall, from a story by Ferdinand Reyher, and “suggested by a story” by M.P. Shiell (The Purple Cloud).