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Solomon and Sheba (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, Romance | 25 December 1959 (USA)
After becoming king of ancient Israel, Solomon faces threats coming from his jealous dispossessed brother Adonijah, the Egyptian Pharaoh and the scheming Queen of Sheba.


King Vidor


Crane Wilbur (story), Anthony Veiller (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Yul Brynner ... Solomon
Gina Lollobrigida ... Sheba
George Sanders ... Adonijah
Marisa Pavan ... Abishag
David Farrar ... Pharaoh
John Crawford ... Joab
Finlay Currie ... David
Harry Andrews ... Baltor
José Nieto ... Ahab (as Jose Nieto)
Maruchi Fresno ... Bathsheba
William Devlin William Devlin ... Nathan
Jack Gwillim ... Josiah
Jean Anderson ... Takyan
Laurence Naismith ... Hezrai (as Lawrence Naismith)
Julio Peña ... Zadok (as Julio Pena)


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 <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Only once in 3000 years...anything like... See more »


Drama | History | Romance | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

25 December 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Solomon and Sheba See more »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Laurence Naismith and Harry Andrews have each played the Titanic's ill-fated Captain, Edward J. Smith in different films; Naismith in A Night to Remember (1958), Andrews in S.O.S. Titanic (1979). See more »


The Star of David appears 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 first appeared in Jewish literature in the 12th century A.D., and became a Jewish symbol in the 17th century. See more »


Solomon: [holding Abishag dead in arms] Oh, no. Oh, no. Why? The sin was mine. Why did you not strike me?
See more »


Referenced in Modern Family: Boys' Night (2011) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"The soldier and the poet"
30 May 2010 | by Steffi_PSee all my reviews

In cinema, we have always lost as well as gained. In the post war era we got a load of upcoming sprouts with new ideas. Changing social mores gave greater latitude in the kind of stories we could tell. And yet the older generation, for whom movie making was purer, unpretentious and above all visually orientated, were still alive and, once in a while, kicking.

Now, Solomon and Sheba is a dead-looking production if ever I saw one. Even though it was released the same year as Ben-Hur, one of the most successful ancient world epics ever made, you can still see the format is getting a little tired. This isn't so much Sunday school story come-to-life as cheap and somewhat half-hearted excuse for a bit of bare flesh and erotic dancing of the kind that they really went in for in the 50s. For a production of this kind, it is woefully low budget. The sets look like you could punch holes in them, and the costumes look like they were cut up from old curtains (net curtains in Gina Lolobrigida's case).

The screenplay too is utter trash. Complete changes in character and drive are crammed into single scenes. The dialogue is not bad as such, it is merely bland and unmemorable. And then there are the actors. Yul Brynner, standing in for Tyrone Power (who was dead at the time) giving a reasonably understated performance, but doing little more than sitting around looking thoughtful. Screen brother George Sanders simply looks worse the wear for age, and it appears likely he simply couldn't be bothered any more, especially for something like this. Finlay Currie, now something of a fixture in the biblical flick, makes a brief and fairly run-of-the-mill appearance. The rest of the cast are so dull they are not even worth a mention.

But does any of this really matter? Well, of course yes it does to some extent. We expect a little quality control even in a picture like this. But when you're watching a colourful adaptation of some millennia-old mythology, it's acceptable for realism and dramatic intensity to play second fiddle to the power of the images. And this is where our afore-mentioned old-school approach comes in.

This was the final feature film of veteran director King Vidor. Vidor had been handed one crummy project after another for the past decade or so, and yet unlike Sanders he never lost his professional interest – in spite of a rather troubling experience on this particular production. Solomon and Sheba is packed with the kind of visual splendour that Vidor had been crafting since the early 20s. In the battle sequences he works round the small number of extras by focusing on dynamic snippets of action, often having fighters surge towards the camera for that added impact on the audience. In Brynner and Lolobrigida's boat scene the eerie willow fronds add a layer of atmosphere that makes up for any deficit in the acting. All of this is enhanced by the sublimely moody cinematography of Freddie Young – the only other outstanding name in the production crew. Best of all Vidor does this without resorting to any fancy camera tricks.

Is Vidor's compelling imagery enough to save Solomon and Sheba? Not quite. Nothing could really turn back the tide of paltriness that washes over every other aspect of the picture. But Vidor's efforts at least make it easy on the eye. With that in mind, you can quite happily enjoy this as pretty no-brainer entertainment, just as you can the pictures of Cecil B. DeMille (although Vidor is far more surreal and spiritual then the earthy DeMille). If you keep your eyes peeled for things like that jolly conga line snaking its way through the surprisingly risqué pagan rite, or a soldier getting a round shield pinned to his face like a bronze-age emoticon, you might even find a few laughs in this ostensibly serious feature.

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