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The Jews are taken from Jerusalem and made slaves by King Nebuchadnezzar. In the meantime Cyrus, king of the Persians, who has been living as a shepherd, is proclaimed king and defeats Nebuchadnezzar. Written by
Salvatore Santangelo <email@example.com>
For a low-budget Biblical epic from the Sam Katzman stable, this is decidedly above-average and definitely superior to the turgid (and recently-viewed) SINS OF JEZEBEL from the same year. It deals with only a partially-familiar episode in the Old Testament (that of Daniel and the Lions) working it into a plot wherein the Jews, somewhat surprisingly, intend to overthrow the Pagan realm of Babylon!
Typically, it features an incongruous lead in Richard Conte (who is perhaps too good an actor to be entirely defeated by the genre trappings, though his hairstyle is unforgivably unflattering!) who is chosen by the placid Daniel figure to escape from captivity and go seek and indoctrinate a boy shepherd (actually a royal off-spring) whom Divine inspiration has decreed as the Savior of His People. Incidentally, Daniel is favored by King Nebuchadnezzar but his son (played by Michael Ansara) is jealous of his influence over Dad and decides to strike at him where it hurts the most i.e. persuading the King to order the (previously-tolerated) worshipping of gods other than those of Babylon as forbidden. When the Holy Man keeps at his daily piety (easily detected by the fuming Ansara), he is thrown into prison and left at the mercy of a bunch of lions that are unleashed upon him; arriving the next day and jokingly querying whether there will be enough of him to be identified, the King's son is shocked to find Daniel is still alive (the latter simply walks out of the cell, leaving Ansara to pick up his jaw from the floor)! The young man is adamant, however, and he throws three other Jews who have dared defy the restricted practice of religion, into a furnace this time around and, once again, he has to witness their unscathed and nonchalant exit from the flames (though the special-effects in this scene leave a lot to be desired)!
On the heroic front, however, things are not rosy either as Conte's efforts to elevate the shepherd-boy's status are largely unappreciated by the brash kid. Things come to a head when the latter entrusts the protagonist with taking a princess (lovely and well-cast Linda Christian, better-known as Mrs. Tyrone Power) he had abducted while on her way to marry newly-appointed Babylonian king Ansara to the city for himself(!) needless to say, she prefers her rugged escort to both his immature 'leader' and the scowling ruler of her new home! Anyway, Daniel's prophecy comes true at the end the catch being that his ultimate intention was not to gain Babylon but to liberate the Jews, and we are shown a more modest exodus to the more famous one co-ordinated by Moses out of Egypt. While the film is relatively sober for the duration, a howler is nonetheless reserved for the finale: Conte, who had in any case already been betrothed to a rather frumpy Jewish woman, exits the gates of Babylon without having deigned his intended of a word or even a look as she has to earnestly call out to him amidst the crowds in order to be re-united with her lover and ensure the obligatory (and, under the circumstances, inevitably lame) fade-out clinch!
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