A young Hebrew named Micah, unsatisfied with his father's rural life, demands his inheritance so he can try his luck in the city. Once in the city he falls under the spell of a beautiful pagan priestess who induces him to squander his money and betray his faith. Only after many trials and tribulations does Micah recover his senses and return home to his forgiving father. Written by
Lana Turner in her autobiography: [on "The Prodigal"] The Prodigal Son they named Micah, and to play him, chose Edmund Purdom, a young man with a remarkably high opinion of himself. His pomposity was hard enough to bear; worse yet was the garlic breath he brought back from lunch. My lines were so stupid I hated to go to work in the morning. Even the costumes were atrocious. They were ornate concoctions dripping with heavy beads, and the material was so stiff that I felt I was wearing armor. "Well," I thought, "I may be trapped in this picture, but I'm going to make myself as sensuous, sexy, and gorgeous as possible." See more »
Asham. I've drunk deep of every wine from here to Petra, and I've had my full share of women. Yet I'm behaving like a beardless boy panting for the first forbidden fruit that he sees. A priestess who worships a painted graven image! But she's in my blood!
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Even when they weren't very good, those widescreen Biblical epics of the 1950's were usually "fun" in a campy sort of way. This leviathan from MGM piles on the lavish sets and costumes but manages to evoke little more than polite boredom mixed with the occasional snicker. There's no historical atmosphere here -- everything is "soundstage" -- and there's no chemistry between its leading man and leading lady. Some worthy players do pop up in the supporting cast -- Louis Calhern, Cecil Kellaway, Joseph Wiseman, etc. -- but they're usually stuck in silly headdresses which look like overturned wastebaskets. James Mitchell probably delivers the liveliest performance in the movie and he plays a mute! Poor Edmund Purdom. He starred in 20th's biggest production of 1954, "The Egyptian" -- after Marlon Brando turned down the part -- and then starred in this, MGM's biggest production of 1955, and yet this almost unprecedented, one-two whammy of multimillion dollar spectacles failed to ignite his acting career. This is puzzling inasmuch as he was a good-looking fellow with a fine voice and real acting talent but perhaps the cold, cynical nature of his two major roles kept audiences from warming to him. He soon wound up in Italian B-movies. The flogging he suffers while chained in a dungeon in "The Prodigal" did, however, win him a bit of unexpected honor. It ranks 66th in the book, "Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies."
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