After her banishment from Rome, Jewish Princess Salome returns to her Roman-ruled native land of Galilee where prophet John the Baptist preaches against Salome's parents, King Herod and Queen Herodias.
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 if 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>
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[praying to God in the temple after her unsuccessful attempt to prevent Solomon from attending Sheba's pagan ritual]
Lord God, hear the prayer of thy servant. Mine was not the strength to save my lord Solomon from himself. But thine is the power. Let not thy wrath descend upon him. Look into his heart and pity him. But if it be thy will to punish him, visit it upon me in his stead.
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A heavy budget, a star that died with 75% of the movie completed. Recipe for disaster right, not in this case as Yul Brynner, the "great bald one" as he was known , except with hair here makes a convincing Solomon and Vidor scores in his direction. This movie sets itself up from the beginning as the story of two brothers and a case for redemption for that is what this movie is about. Solomon as everyone, Christian or not knows was wise as the common adage states. He inherited the Kingdom of Israel from his father as chosen by God to replace his older brother, the warrior played by the great supporting and sometimes leading man George Sanders in one his nefarious performances. Solomon prays for wisdom which God grants him and Israel prospers. Neighbors become jealous and scared as a redeemed Sanders courtesy of Brynner builds Israel's army to a sizable number. They also fear their teachings of equality to all men and their notion of One God. Sheba is sent or chooses to tempt Solomon with riveting consequences. The problem with these movies in our modern eyes is that the writers have them talk in the way texts and related scriblings depicted dialogue back then which is as poetry with innuendoes and rhyme. This today is often seen as camp, such the case of recent Swords and Sandals like Gladiator avoiding these dialogue. The movie also bears a certain resemblance to De Mille's classic Samson and Delilah which kickstarted the whole genre. That said, a "Shield of light" action sequence is worth a look to see how it was staged and shot. Gina Lollobrigida is absolutely stunningly photographed and the performance is quite good. All in the one, one of the master's last can be your first intro into his ouevre.
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