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Sodom und Gomorrha (1922)

When the old multimillionaire Jackson Harber wants to marry the young model Mary, she hesitates, but her mother convinces her that this is her chance to lead a life in luxury and leisure. ... See full summary »


Michael Curtiz (as Mihály Kertész)




Cast overview:
Georg Reimers Georg Reimers ... Mr. Jackson Harber
Victor Varconi ... Priester des Lyzeums - Engel des Herrn (as Michael Varkonyi)
Lucy Doraine Lucy Doraine ... Mary Conway / Das Weib des Lot / Lia, Königin von Syrien
Erika Wagner Erika Wagner ... Mrs. Agathe Conway - Marys Mutter
Walter Slezak ... Eduard Harber - Student am Cambridge-Lyzeum / Ein Goldschmied von Galiläa
Kurt Ehrle Kurt Ehrle ... Harry Lighton - Bildhauer / Lot
Paul Askonas Paul Askonas
Richard Berczeller Richard Berczeller ... Lot
Gyula Szöreghy Gyula Szöreghy ... (as Julius von Szöreghy)
Franz Herterich Franz Herterich
Béla Balázs ... Extra
Willi Forst ... Extra
Leo Slezak
Hans Thimig


When the old multimillionaire Jackson Harber wants to marry the young model Mary, she hesitates, but her mother convinces her that this is her chance to lead a life in luxury and leisure. The engagement is celebrated with an extravagant party at his estate, which is a gigantic palace and park in oriental style. His son Eduard arrives from Cambridge, accompanied by a priest, who is his tutor. The priest is disgusted by the bacchanalian reveling and womanizing going on everywhere. Mary's adorer, the sculptor Harry Lighton, tries to convince her to break the engagement. When she refuses, he shoots himself and is seriously injured. Mary falls asleep and is transported in her dream to the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the dream she sees herself as the wife of Lot, leaving her husband to play a central role in the excessive rites of the goddess Astarte. An angel arrives and leads Lot and his wife out of Sodom, just when the city starts to collapse. Lot's wife cannot resist ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Germany | Austria

Release Date:

26 March 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Legende von Sünde und Strafe See more »

Filming Locations:

Vienna, Austria

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sascha-Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Walter Slezak's first film. See more »


Referenced in Rudora no hihou (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

the (superior) model for The Ten Commandments and Curtis' own later Noah's Ark
21 November 2017 | by kekseksaSee all my reviews

This film shows in form some influence of the United States, apparently at the instance of producer Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowsky who had visited the US and developed an enthusiasm for the films of Griffith. Kertész, himself, one suspects was more interested in the films of Cecil B. DeMille. In any case, what he does is take the idea of parallel stories from Intolerance, although there is also a clear influence of the equally an influence of the equally but differently complex use of multiple locales from Pastrone's Cabiria, which allows Kertész to introduce scenes of revolution, war and retribution that do not form any part of the biblical story. These "Syrian" scenes are important because they most closely reflect the 1919 experience in Kertész' native Hungary, where a Romanian army (backed by the West) had invaded to suppress the revolution.

He then combines this with the alluring idea of a "fantasy" dream-scenario featuring the same actors as in the "real-life" frame-story (a gimmick that DeMille did not originate but which he used particularly effectively in Male and Female in 1918). Interestingly the idea as adapted by Kertész (parallel stories) was then itself borrowed back by DeMille and Jeannie MacPherson for The Ten Commandments (1923) - originally intended as a kind of sketch film with each episode devoted to a commandment - but without the doubling that Kertész had borrowed from them and it was then reused (parallel stories and doubling) by Kertész himself (now Curtiz) shortly after his arrival in the US for Noah's Ark (1928).

In fairness Thanhouser had done something rather similar in their interesting and much under-rated version of A Man Without a Country in 1917 where a modern story is parallelled with the original Edward Everett Hale story.

Stylistically, on the other hand, as other reviewers have rightly pointed out, with its symbolism, its chiaroscuro and magnificent art nouveau décors, it is much closer to the stylised expressionistic vision to be found in other contemporary German films. This makes it a great deal more powerful as a film (if less grandiose) than either DeMille's The Ten Commandments or Curtiz' own later Noah's Ark.

As satire (both social and political), it is again closer to German models and has far more bite than the later films. Kertész had himself only recently arrived in Austria as a refugee from 'the White Terror" that had followed the defeat of the Communist Revolution there in 1919. Although it is not a certain indication of his own political views (he was more than a shade opportunistic by nature), he had made one short film before leaving Hungary (Jön az öcsém) which was quite explicit propaganda on behalf of the Communist regime. Here the association of the cities of the plain with the excesses of capitalism (as they appeared to many in the twenties) has the air of being genuinely felt.

The sense of a crisis of capitalism was at the heart of both Communist and Fascist movements in Europe. It is a mistake to judge this film entirely by the standards of DeMille and assume that the effect intended is purely one of titillation. The "existential hell" noted by another reviewer is no "mistake". The situation seen from Europe was a more serious one and he darker tone of many films reflected this.

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