Samson and Delilah (1949)

Article #1330 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-4-2004
Posting Date: 4-3-2005
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Featuring Hedy Lamarr, Victor Mature, George Sanders

Super-strong Samson does battle with the Philistime oppressors, only to be betrayed by the seductress Delilah.

Hey, it’s a movie that takes place in ancient times about a man with super-strength who fights lions and picks up heavy things and throws them. It sounds like a sword-and-sandal movie, doesn’t it? Well, you’re close; I have no doubt that biblical epics like this one were a big influence on the sword-and-sandal trend. The main difference is that the sword-and-sandal movies were meant to be light-hearted action fare, whereas this one (being based on the Bible) is “serious” fare; no sword-and-sandal flick ever moved this slowly. The acting throughout is good, sometimes excellent; George Sanders and Victor Mature in particular shine. Still, they’re saddled with a script that is as fast-moving as a sleepy turtle and as agile as a three-legged elephant. It’s also repetitive; in case you didn’t know that Samson slew an army with the jawbone of an ass, George Sanders repeats that fact about six times within a two minute period. And how long do you think it would take for Samson to tell Delilah that his strength comes from his hair? Here’s some dialogue to show how long it could have taken.

Delilah: Tell me, Samson, where do you get your strength?

Samson: From my long hair.

Delilah: Oh, I see.

Instead, we get a long speech about the manes of lions and how pathetic sheep look like when they’re shorn. If you’re going to belabor a plot point, at least pick one that isn’t known by everybody at the outset.

Still, the action scenes are definitely highlights; the battle at the wedding feast, the battle with Samson’s captors (you know, the one with the jawbone of an ass), and the final sequence in the temple of Dagon are truly great epic moments. Still, I would have loved to have at least one scene where Samson bends the bars of jail cell. You can’t have everything.


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