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The Queen of Sheba (1921)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 18 users  
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The story of the ill-fated romance between Solomon, king of Israel, and the Queen of Sheba.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Fritz Leiber ...
Claire de Lorez ...
Queen Amrath
...
King Armud of Sheba
Herbert Heyes ...
Tamaran
Herschel Mayall ...
Menton
G. Raymond Nye ...
George Nichols ...
Genevieve Blinn ...
Pat Moore ...
Sheba's Son
Joan Gordon ...
Nomis, Sheba's Sister
William Hardy ...
Olos
Paul Cazeneuve ...
Pharaoh's Envoy
John Cosgrove ...
King of Tyre
Nell Craig ...
Princess Vashti
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Storyline

The story of the ill-fated romance between Solomon, king of Israel, and the Queen of Sheba.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Gigantic Spectacle and Story of the World's Greatest Love See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

10 April 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Rainha do Sabá  »

Filming Locations:


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 »
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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Only three minutes of footage survive. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cinema's days of yore long ago forgotten...
15 July 2006 | by (Cieszyn, Poland) – See all my reviews

671 scenes, the cast of 10,000, 500 camels, a thrilling chariot race of women, particularly lavish sets, an ornate, elaborate spectacle, skimpy female costumes ... all this in the direction of J. Gordon Edwards. But who in the lead? ... not Theda Bara, a mainstay of the director's films and a "vamp" of the 1910s but girlish looking Betty Blythe!

1921 saw this tremendously spectacular Fox production, seemingly comparable to D.W.Griffith's INTOLERANCE (1916). Unfortunately, nowadays, the movie is presumed lost since nobody owns any copy or any reel from this film. All that has survived from this campy spectacle on screen are a few studio stills. According to them, we can deduce that the costumes were very lavish, the scenes spectacular and the performances memorable. Except for Betty Blythe's Sheba, Solomon was portrayed by a very good actor of the silent era, Fritz Leiber (Caesar in 1917 CLEOPATRA). Moreover, Blythe's skimpy costumes show one fact about the film - it worked as a tool to create a new revolutionary look at cinema before the code.

And the content... The story was based on the Bible but a lot was changed. Its primary focus was the romance between Solomon and Sheba. And how was it that the king of Israel fell in love with a queen from such a faraway kingdom (today's Yemen)? According to the Bible, it was as simple as that - Sheba was very beautiful and Solomon fell in love with her more than with hundreds of other women in his harem. Yet, according to J. Gordon Edwards, it was much more complicated... The queen of Sheba kills the cruel wicked King (George Siegmann) so much hated in the land of Sheba, and sets for a long journey northwards in order to visit the court of Solomon (Fritz Leiber) in Jerusalem. She wins a chariot race with Princess Vashti (Nell Craig) after which Solomon falls in love with her (NOTE! This is the scene which was the climax of the movie - two women in a chariot race. Some critics claimed that it might have founded the ancient origin of the modern feminist movement). Then, one night she visits Solomon in his private quarters and the consequence of this meeting is a boy child. While her people believe that the child's father is the dead King, the Israelites know the truth who the right father of the boy is. When the boy grows older, he stands in the way for Israeli throne, particularly in the way for Adoniah, Solomon's brother. Sheba must leave Jerusalem for her faraway kingdom with her son... The story has little to do with the real one, yet it was not the key goal of the movie. There were two critical factors about THE QUEEN OF SHEBA (1921): ASTONISHMENT and GIGANTIC SPECTACLE because the early cinema (the 1900s-1930s) was primarily relaxation and entertainment rather than history and education (and it remained so until now in most of the cases).

Since the film was lost in the Fox Studio in the 1930s, similarly to Edwards' CLEOPATRA (1917), it was remade a few times, once by King Vidor in the film SOLOMON AND SHEBA (1959) and another time by an Italian director Pietro Francisci in LA REGINA DI SABA (1952). The plot of the love affair of the Israeli king and the queen of an exotic southern kingdom was also developed in SOLOMON (1997) by Roger Young. Nevertheless, none of the versions managed to achieve the magnificence of the 1921 original.

Fairy tale as it may seem and quite immoral for its era, I am sure that many silent movie fans would find THE QUEEN OF SHEBA (1921) enjoyable to watch. Like CLEOPATRA (1917), it is a dream to find somewhere in the world. Wouldn't it be a nice look at the cinema's days of yore? Yet, year by year the hope in finding such films gradually dies...

(the plot information as well as some facts about the movie in my comment are based on New York Times review titled "The Queen of Sheba, the Screen" and the plot synopsis by Janiss Garza)


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