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.
In the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), Gallilean prophet John the Baptist (Alan Badel) preaches against King Herod (Charles Laughton) and Queen Herodias (Dame Judith Anderson). The latter wants John dead, but Herod fears to harm him due to a prophecy. Enter beautiful Princess Salome (Rita Hayworth), Herod's long-absent stepdaughter. Herodias sees the King's dawning lust for Salome as her means of bending the King to her will. But Salome and her lover Claudius (Stewart Granger) are (contrary to Scripture) nearing conversion to the new religion. And the famous climactic dance turns out to have unexpected implications.Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In 1951, director Cecil B. DeMille contacted Columbia Pictures studio head Harry Cohn about borrowing Rita Hayworth to star in a production of "Salome". Cohn essentially stole DeMille's idea, and made his own movie. He told screenwriter Jesse Lasky, Jr., "You have one weekend to come up with a story for this movie, or you're fired!" Over the weekend, Lasky wrote out a fifty-page treatment that became the basis for this movie. However, since Hayworth was a popular box office star, the original New Testament ending of this movie was re-written to make Salome more sympathetic, and less of a femme fatale. See more »
In Palestine, Claudius saves Salome from a gila monster, a venomous lizard found only in southwestern North America. See more »
What does he say, Marcellus? Tell me!
Remember the law, learned Senator, a Roman may marry only a Roman and I need not tell you the Princess Salome is held in ill repute.
Ill repute? Because I enjoyed life here?
See more »
Opening credits prologue: After the death of Julius Caesar, Rome ruled the world under the dictatorship of Tiberius Caesar.
In the conquered province of Galilee, King Herod and Queen Herodias held the throne.
So wanton was Herod's court, the Queen sent the young Princess Salome to Rome.
And it came to pass that a man appeared in Galilee who many thought was the Messiah.
This was the Prophet known as John the Baptist . . .
One of the most entertaining of the many Biblical Epics of the 1950's.
I first saw this film as part of a religeous education class at Catholic school. The kids didn't know that Rita Hayworth was a major sex symbol or that Charles Laughton and Judith Anderson were two of the most respected members of the American theater. All we saw was a supposedly educational film on the story of the death of John the Baptist. Our teacher simply told us that some of the plot details were not in the bible and that this was just to give us a view of what times were like during Jesus' life.
Years later, it popped up on the late show. I watched it again out of curiosity, and found it more entertaining. From other productions of "Salome", this production made it seem that Rita Hayworth (then in her 30's) was a bit long-in-the-tooth for the role of Salome who was supposed to be in her late teens. However, as a "fictionalized" Salome, Hayworth was perfectly cast-beautiful, sensual, and delightful. As King Herod, Charles Laughton plays the role with an underlying sympathy towards his subjects which he tries to maintain because of earlier prophecies and a tragedy concerning his own father who died after the birth of Christ. Laughton, usually hammy and over-the-top, gives quiet depth to the performance of the troubled king. As Queen Herodias, Dame Judith Anderson steps right out of her theatrical role as the Greek heroine Medea. Seeing Anderson's performance brought back memories of Sian Phillip's much more subtle performance as the evil Livia in "I, Claudius". From the moment she appears walking down the stairs of her stone palace, Anderson tries to out-diva Hayworth. She sneers, she schemes, she lies, she plots. She is the epitome of evil, yet unlike Phillip's Livia, Herodias is easy to see through. Anderson had many brilliant film appearances, but she should have chosen to play this role in a less flashy light; if she had not let Herodias's obvious evil show through until towards the end, she would have turned in a better performance. That's what made her characterization of Mrs. Danvers in "Rebecca" a success. (And years later, on the soap opera "Santa Barbara", Anderson "retired" her theatrical style to fit in with the medium she had joined).
As for Stewart Granger, the handsome actor must have felt underused in this stereotypical part. Handsome and brave, he is still thrown to the wayside by the three other characters. Other than to be a "love interest" for Salome (and thus the hero), there is no important reason for his character to be there. Alan Badel as John the Baptist is oh-so-holy in his few scenes; when he has a prison scene with Hayworth, the viewer can't help but roll their eyes and say, "Yeah, right...." Briefly, Cedric Hardwicke reigns as Augustus Caeser. Why is it that Hollywood believed that every ancient ruler had a British accent? And to have his opening line quoting Julius Caeser saying, "I Came, I Saw, I Conquered" is just more reason for chuckles. I could write a whole essay on the bad dialogue, but what's the point? This is still entertaining in spite of its falsehoods and over-the-top performances. Beautiful color and Hayworth's wonderful dancing sequence make this perfect Easter fare as long as the audience knows that historically, it is a bunch of bunk. Check out Ken Russell's "Salome's Last Dance" (with Glenda Jackson her own uniquely hamming Herodias). And just try EVEN to compare the two films.
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