Shortly before his death in ancient Israel King David has a vision from God telling him that his younger son Solomon should succeed him as king. His other son Adonijah is unhappy and vows ... See full summary »
David, now an old man, is still king of Israel. Among his sons, the ambitious Adonijah and the clever Solomon. The two young men are fierce rivals, since both are prospective heirs to the ... See full summary »
In order to flee from powerful enemies, young Mayan king Balam leads his people north across the Gulf of Mexico to the coast of what will become the United States. They build a home in the ... See full summary »
J. Lee Thompson
Shirley Anne Field
A "Romeo and Juliet" story that takes place in the late 16c. Ukraine. Taras has settled into comfortable farm life after years of adventures and swashbuckling with his cossack companions. ... See full summary »
J. Lee Thompson
Korean War veteran returns home to rural Salinas, California with his new Japanese wife, whom he met at a war hospital. The couple are forced to deal with the sometimes subtle, sometimes ... See full summary »
During the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland: General Andrew Jackson has only 1,200 men left to defend New Orleans when he learns that a British fleet will... See full summary »
Rome, 1905. Lina, a music hall singer, has fallen in love with Sergei, a Russian prince. Maestro Doria, who gives her voice lessons and who hopes to make her his mistress, takes her to ... See full summary »
Robert Z. Leonard
Shortly before his death in ancient Israel King David has a vision from God telling him that his younger son Solomon should succeed him as king. His other son Adonijah is unhappy and vows to attain the throne. Meanwhile the Egyptian Pharoah agrees to cede a Red Sea port to the Queen of Sheba is she can find a way to destroy Solomon, whose wisdom and benevolent rule is seen as a threat to more tyrannical monarchs in the region. Sheba, Pharoah, Adonijah, the leaders of the Twelve Tribes and his own God make life difficult for Solomon who is tempted by Sheba to stray. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Co-producer/star Tyrone Power had completed shooting more than half of the film when he collapsed during a duelling scene with George Sanders and died a few minutes later. Power was replaced in the role of Solomon by Yul Brynner, who refilmed all of Power's scenes. Power, however, is still visible in the film in long shots. See more »
The film makes heavy use of the Star of David as Solomon's symbol. It is seen on the shields of Solomon's army, and on articles of clothing worn by Solomon and members of his court. However, the Star of David did not appear in Jewish literature until the 12th Century A.D., and did not become a Jewish symbol until the 17th century. See more »
[holding Abishag dead in arms]
Oh, no. Oh, no. Why? The sin was mine. Why did you not strike me?
See more »
King Vidor, one of the most famous figures in movie history, the director of Tolstoy's classic on screen (WAR AND PEACE), was not known for making biblical epics. Nobody associates him with this genre that much as we do Cecil B DeMille or D.W.Griffith, for instance. Yet, his last film, SOLOMON AND SHEBA, has a straight reference to the Bible. Nevertheless, the movie can hardly be seen as a biblical epic due to one important factor, its content.
Solomon...what can we say about him from the Bible?...a famous third king of Israel (after Saul and David), a man known for exceptional wisdom, a builder of the splendid first temple of Jerusalem... there is indeed much about him in the Old Testament. But Sheba? All we know is that she, as a queen of a distant land (today's Yemen), paid a visit to Jerusalem in order to see the splendor of the city and of the entire kingdom as well as to admire the wisdom of its king. However, what we find in the movie deals primarily with Solomon-Sheba relations: first a conspiracy, evil intentions, then weakness, desire, treason, finally sacrificial love and mercy. And now we would have to ask ourselves "is it a historical movie or a fairy tale with some historically accurate background?"
I think that in order to understand the director's intentions, we have to look deeper at the cinema of that time and King Vidor himself. SOLOMON AND SHEBA with its title refers to a 1951 Henry King's movie, "David and Bathsheba." Making films at that time was much like this: the producers picked up some aspect from history or the Bible and created a movie out of this containing lavish costumes, great cast, campy spectacle but barely any historical accuracy - all for entertainment. And this is clearly noticeable in SOLOMON AND SHEBA. Besides, there is one more factor that helps get the idea of this film...the content of SOLOMON AND SHEBA was partly inspired by a long ago forgotten movie, one of the most gigantic spectacles of all time, still presumed lost, THE QUEEN OF SHEBA (1921) with Betty Blythe and Fritz Leiber. A love affair of the wise Israeli king and an exotic lustful queen was something particularly entertaining for 20th century viewers. Therefore, we cannot treat Vidor's film as a biblical epic, it's only INSPIRED by the Bible. However, while many people concentrate on the film's weak points: inaccuracy, unnatural battle scenes, etc, I rather feel compelled to focus on some of its strong points.
It is, indeed, a lavish spectacle. There are many scenes that reveal the spirit of grandeur. Here, it seems necessary to mention the two consecutive moments: Solomon enters the temple of luxury devoted to the only God (he says his famous prayer) and the next moment in the Land of Sheba where its queen is surrounded by the luxurious sets, a dedicated servant and a parrot. This contrast has its roots in one major factor Israel differed from other kingdoms and nations: the Israeli king was a servant of God while other rulers were masters of their own. That was the genius and righteousness of the Israel of that time! Another moment worth seeing is the Israel-Egypt battle and the shields shining in the sun. Quite an interesting idea...
The performances are worth consideration. Yul Brynner is different than in his other films (primarily due to hair on his head) but does a nice job as Solomon. He expresses the pride, power, wisdom but also desire that he is driven by. The best scene played by Yul in this movie is, I think, when Solomon is tempted to take part at Ragon celebration. Although virtuous Abishaq (Marisa Pavan) tries to discourage him from joining the orgy, he is not able to listen to her. Consider his face and the whole performance... masterpiece! Gina Lollobrigida plays well but she holds one disadvantage. Most people (particularly men) focus on her sex appeal forgetting that she has one primary task as an actress: to act and feel the role. The similar problem is, nowadays, with Monica Bellucci (also Italian). Men cannot be objective in the evaluation of her performance because the sex appeal steps in and makes them blind to possible shortcomings in acting. I liked Gina Lollobrigida in the role not only because of her beauty but also because of her good acting, sometimes exposed to difficulties! The moment Solomon is making love to Sheba in a cave at the pagan celebration dedicated to god Ragon is quite freely treated for the 1950s... The supporting cast also give memorable performances including George Sanders as Adonija and Harry Andrews as Baltor, the queen's second.
I also liked the whole atmosphere. Although there are historical inaccuracies in the reconstruction of Jerusalem, the film has a charm and historical mood. It is definitely not the perfect one but I could not evaluate this as a movie without any entertainment. If it weren't for the ridiculous ending (Sheba miraculously healed and speaking with God Jehova???), the film would be equal to such epics as DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS (1954), SAMSON AND DELILAH (1948) and THE CRUSADES (1935). It's not that great but, in its inaccuracy, it definitely cannot be compared to Bruce Beresford's movie (1985) since we do not expect the biblical story from SOLOMON AND SHEBA that much as we do from a movie entirely described as a biopic of king David.
Not a bad film and worth seeing particularly for epic movie fans. Moreover, it is one of the rare films that shows one down to earth fact: wisdom does not mean that desire is conquered... 6/10
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?