Posts Tagged ‘Hedy Lamarr’

The Sword & Sandal Blogathon: 1949’s Samson and Delilah

My post today is for The Sword & Sandal Blogathon, hosted by  Debbie at Moon in Gemini.  Be sure to check out her blog to read other writers’  posts about films set in ancient times.

Sword and Sandal Blogathon

From time to time, Hollywood turns to the Bible for film plots, and due to the supernatural elements in many of the bible’s stories, movies depicting such stories are usually considered epics and/or blockbusters; containing spectacular special effects and casts of thousands.   Some Hollywood versions of famous biblical stories I have enjoyed and some I haven’t.   A year or two ago, Turner Classic aired one I had never seen before so I set my dvr and settled in to watch Cecil B. Demille’s 1949 biblical epic: Samson and Delilah.  I witnessed a pretty good film and it exceeded my expectations, for the most part.  The film was released in late December of 1949, cost around $3,000,000 to make and did boffo at the box office, earning Paramount Studios a bit over $25,000,000 in profits.  The film also won Academy Awards for Best Color  Costume Design and Best Color Art Direction.

Samson_and_Delilah_original_1949_poster

Samson’s story, is found in the Old Testament book of Judges, chapters 13-16.  I’ve included this link if you want to read the actual story of Samson and Delilah.  Highlights are his parents promising to raise their long awaited child as a Nazirite meaning Samson will never eat or drink anything made from grapes, he’ll never have a haircut, and he’ll not touch dead bodies or gravesites.  That haircut part will eventually cause Samson’s downfall, but some say his real downfall was his wanting to be with pagan gals and not marrying a nice Israelite girl as his parents urged him to do.    In telling Samson’s story for the big screen, the screenplay was based upon Russian writer Vladimer Jabotinsky’s novel, published in 1927:  Samson Nazorei(Samson the Nazirite).

Of course, using the novel for the screenplay added story elements not found in the Book of Judges: Delilah was Samson’s sister-in-law, that the Saran of Gaza plots to have the Israeli tribe Samson hails from to turn him in due to high taxes imposed upon them, i.e. if you give us Samson, your taxes will be reduced, a bit of information about Dagon, the false god whom the Philistines worship, and Delilah sad at what happens to Samson after she betrays him and how she comes to his aid.   Samson

Victor Mature, an actor whose films I  haven’t seen much of, is very good as Samson.   He gives an earnest performance, as a strong man who is charming and stubborn,  who wants right to succeed over injustice, and who is humbled when in his weakened state, he turns back to God to sustain him in his time of tribulation.    I felt sorry for him, even when he didn’t listen to his parents and decided to hang out with pagan gals!  My only complaint, and it’s certainly not Mature’s fault, is that the fight he has with a lion is obviously not done with a real lion.  If you throw popcorn at your tv when this part of the film happens, I can nod my head in agreement with your actions!

Samson and Delilah-HedyHedy Lamar  is gorgeous as Delilah and no wonder Samson falls for her.  Delilah is at first angry and sad about her older sister’s murder by Samson’s Philistine enemies.  If it weren’t for him, her sister(ably played by Angela Lansbury, looking equally gorgeous) would still be alive.  The Saran(coolly played by the always excellent George Sanders) of Gaza knows Delilah is the type of beauty that Samson can’t resist, and he knows she is wanting revenge, so he asks her what can the Philistines do to capture Samson? Without missing a beat, Delilah comes up with a plan to seduce Samson, find out what makes him so strong and thus how to weaken him so that he can be captured.    There is a turning point in Delilah, though, and Hedy conveys it well.  She is sorry for her part in helping Samson to be taken prisoner, realizes she really loves him, and helps him with his ultimate victory over the Philistines.

Look for Russ Tamblyn(before he was in 7 Brides for 7 Brothers and West Side Story) as Israelite teen Saul, Olive Deering as Miriam-both friends of Samson’s.  Fay Holden as Hazelelponit, Samson’s mom, and Charles Evans as Manoah, Samson’s Dad.  Mike Mazurki is the leader  of the Philistine soldiers, and Henry Wilcoxen as Prince Ahtur, who wants Samson’s first wife, Semadar(Angela Lansbury).  Director Cecil B. Demille also makes an appearance, or rather his voice does, as he narrates the film’s beginning.

Samson and Delilah is available to watch via Amazon’s Instant Rent, and it is also available to purchase at TCM’s Shop.  Also, on Youtube, a kind soul has posted the entire movie, in 13 parts.  I’ll sign off with some more pictures from the film.

Semadar, Delilah's big sister, who first catches Samson's eye

Semadar, Delilah’s big sister, who first catches Samson’s eye

 

The Saran of Gaza discussing Samson with Delilah

The Saran of Gaza discussing Samson with Delilah

 

Samson hanging out with Delilah

Samson hanging out with Delilah

Delilah's plan works and Samson is captured

Delilah’s plan works and Samson is captured

Remorseful Delilah, leading Samson to the columns at Dagon's temple

Remorseful Delilah, leading Samson to the columns at Dagon’s temple

Samson, ready to destroy the Philistines for the last time

Samson, ready to destroy the Philistines for the last time

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My Classic Movie Pick: Come Live With Me

Hedy Lamarr has a problem and  it has to do with immigration!!  It’s 1941, the Nazis are invading Europe and Hedy(Johnny Jones(why Johnny is her name is never explained…nickname for Johanna???), has managed to flee Austria  to live in  the United States.  Johnny is settled in NYC in a gorgeous apartment as she is the new  love interest of a married publisher, Mr. Bart Kendricks(Ian Hunter), who is in what is termed an “Open Marriage”.    His wife, Diana(Verree Teasdale) has dinner and dancing evenings planned out almost every night with some new guy in her life, so why shouldn’t  Bart pursue the beautiful Viennese refugee and pay for her gorgeous apartment?  Johnny’s problem arises  one evening when the Immigration Office sends an investigator(Barton MacLane), over who tells Johnny that her temporary 3 month visa has expired.  She’ll have to be deported.  Johnny, with tear-filled eyes, pleads with the investigator  and at the sight of such a beautiful damsel in distress, the investigator has a change of heart.  He tells Johnny that  if she can get married in one week to an American guy, then she can remain.

Johnny with Bart at her apartment.

Johnny with Bart at her apartment.

 

CLWM poster 1

James Stewart has a problem too.  He’s Bill Smith, a guy from a rural hamlet in New York state, trying to make it as a great writer in NYC.  He’s had rejection slip after slip after slip in his mailbox and he’s sitting in a park commiserating with the delightful Donald Meek(playing a bum who may not really be a bum!), as to how life as a bum is really not too bad.

Stewart, aka Bill, discussing the bum life with Donald Meek.

Stewart, aka Bill, discussing the bum life with Donald Meek.

A sudden thunderstorm drives Bill to the nearest diner where he just happens to meet Johnny Jones.  The wheels of an idea begin to turn in Johnny’s lovely head and pretty soon she is in Bill’s hovel of an apartment, asking him to marry her, so that she can stay in America.  Bill is stunned, but decides to agree since Johnny says she will pay him a weekly stipend as a way to thank him for marrying  her.  Bill has her add us his budgeted purchases for a week and the weekly check she gives him will be for $17.80.

Hey!  He just might marry me!!

Hey! He just might marry me!!

Telling Bill her plan for a marriage of convenience.

Telling Bill her plan for a marriage of convenience.

Bill hits upon a new writing idea, he’ll write about this marriage of convenience and it proves a popular book idea, especially to Diana Kendricks. who helps husband Bart run Kendricks Publishing.  She contacts Bill and invites him to their headquarters.   She informs Bart about this new book, about  the new writer, and Bart deduces  that Bill has married Johnny!  He is worried that Bill might steal her away from him, so after Bill receives a $500 check from the publishers, Bart decides to find out where Bill will be going that day.

 The book deal from the Kendricks's.


The book deal from the Kendricks’s.

Bill decides to buy a new car, pick up Johnny, and off they’ll go to visit his grandmother.  Johnny had asked Bill for a divorce so she could then be free to marry Bart, but Bill, who has fallen in love with Johnny, tells her that first she must go on a trip with him for the weekend, so they can get to know one another, and then, if she still wants the divorce, he’ll give her one.

Driving to Grandmother's

Driving to Grandmother’s

At grandma's garden, in the moonlight.

At grandma’s garden, in the moonlight.

This movie is a light-hearted, fun way to while away 85 minutes.  James Stewart is very believable as the bewildered and then lovestruck Bill.  Hedy Lamarr is great as the take charge kind of gal that has to decide which man she will be with.  The supporting cast is good and they give strong performances.  Verree Teasdale gives her character a sophisticated wisdom and a hint of  a forgiving spirit as she may take Bart back and quit her boyfriend of the week club.   Ian Hunter, who I had only seen before in the Shirley Temple film The Little Princess, as Sarah Crewe’s father, has a way with comedic scenes that was very good to view.  Adeline de Walt Reynolds is cute as Grandmother, who doesn’t know the full story about Johnny and Bill;she thinks they are just dating, but she gives Johnny good advice when Bart decides to crash the weekend plans.  There is also a cute anecdote about lightening bugs and how and why the males and females flash those lighted ends of their bodies.

Directed and produced by Clarence Brown, distributed by MGM, screenplay by Patterson McNutt from a story by Virginia Van Upp. try to find this little gem of a romance comedy.  Come Live With Me is available at TCM’s Shop, it’s available to purchase through Amazon, and it is shown from time to time on Turner Classic Movies(TCM).  So keep your eyes on their schedule!

I’ll end this post with a few more publicity shots for the film.

Another example of the paper cut outs for the opening credits.

An example of the paper cut outs for the opening credits.

Hedy and Jimmy breaking the 4th wall!

Hedy and Jimmy breaking the 4th wall!

nteresting overhead shot of the two bedrooms Bill and Johnny use at Grandma's house.  There is a space over the shared wall so they can whisper to each other.

An overhead shot of the two bedrooms Bill and Johnny use at Grandma’s house. There is a space over the shared wall so they can whisper to each other.

MGM publicity shot

MGM publicity shot

Paper cut-outs used to make the movie's opening credits.

Paper cut-outs used to make the movie’s opening credits.