Samson and Delilah (1949 film): Wikis

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Samson and Delilah

French movie poster for Samson and Delilah
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
Written by Fredric M. Frank
Vladimir Jabotinsky (book, scr.)
Harold Lamb
Jesse Lasky Jr.
Music by Victor Young
Ray Evans (song)
Jay Livingston (song)
Cinematography George Barnes
Dewey Wrigley
Victor Young
Editing by Anne Bauchens
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) October 31,1949
Running time 128 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Samson and Delilah (1949) is a film made by Paramount Pictures (and one of few pre-1950 films by the studio to remain under its ownership), produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr as the title characters. Angela Lansbury, George Sanders and Henry Wilcoxon are also featured.

The story of Samson and Delilah is adapted from the Biblical Book of Judges.

Wildly successful at the box-office, DeMille's Biblical epic is known for the beauty of its leading lady and the spectacular toppling of the temple.

Contents

Plot

Samson, a Hebrew placed under Nazirite vows from birth by his mother, is engaged to a Philistine woman named Semadar. During a fight at their wedding feast, Semadar is killed and Samson becomes a hunted man. Shortly after the death of Semedar, the Saran of Gaza (Sanders) imposes heavy taxes on the Dannites, with the purpose of having Samson betrayed by his own people. Saran's plan works and frustrated Dannites hand over Samson to the Philistines. News of his capture reaches Saran and Delilah, Semadar's sister, and they are pleased to hear that the mighty Samson was captured.

Samson is taken by the high priest Ahur (Wilcoxon) and a regiment of Philistine troops. En route back to Gaza, Ahtur decides to taunt Samson. Ahtur stops his march in a valley. Here Samson prays to God, asking for strength against the Philistines. Then the wind starts blowing and thunder crashes. Samson then rips apart his chains and ropes and begins to combat the Philistines. At first he fights in hand-to-hand combat, killing a few Philistines and even toppling Ahtur's war chariot, breaking Ahthur's arm in the act. Samson then takes the jawbone of an ass and starts killing more and more Philistines. The sheer power of Samson and his strikes with the jawbone destroy the helmets of the Philistines, crushing their skulls. In the end the Philistine force is destroyed.

News of the defeat of Ahtur at the hands Samson reaches Saran. Saran feels embarrassed that the army that had conquered so many armies fell to one man with the jawbone of an ass as his weapon. Saran ponders how to defeat Samson. Delilah comes up with the idea of seducing Samson, thus having him reveal the secret of his strength and deliver Samson up for punishment. Her plan works; she cuts his hair, which he feels gives him his strength. Falling in love with him, Delilah regrets her act after Samson is blinded by his captors. He is brought to the temple of Dagon for the entertainment of the Philistines and of Saran. He is tortured and jeered at. Saran gives Delilah the opportunity to exact her punishment from Samson with a whip. Delilah tells Samson to take hold of the whip and she would direct him to where the two main support pillars of temple were. She does and Samson tells Delilah to run away because death would come to the temple. Delilah is reluctant to leave, but eventually does. Samson then prays to God asking for strength one last time.

As he begins to push on the pillars, the crowd begins to laugh at him. The priests of Dagon tell Samson to forget his god and to kneel before Dagon. Ahtur then decides that Samson will kneel by force if he has to. Ahtur takes several soldiers to help him. Samson is still pushing on the pillars. Eventually one of them jerks to one side. The crowd's laughs cease as they watch in awe how Samson moved the pillars. Samson manages to topple the first pillar, crushing Ahtur and his soldiers. Surprised at what was happening, one of Saran's subjects exclaims, "He has the strength of the devil!", to which Saran responds, "No. The strength of a god!" Samson then proceeds to topple the second pillar.

However, before he does, he says these final words: "My eyes have seen thy glory, oh Lord. Now let me die with my enemies." Samson topples the second pillar. Immediately the colossal statue of Dagon, which was supported by those two pillars, begins falling. Seeing their impending doom, many decide to run. Then the whole support of the statue of Dagon crumbles and the statue comes crashing down, falling on the upper levels on the temple, where some were situated. Saran decides not to run despite the warnings of his subjects; he just lifts his wine and said "Delilah" as the statue falls on him. The parts of the temple begin to crumble and fall, crushing many. Some die as they jump from the upper levels to avoid the statue. In the end the temple lies in rubble. Among the rubble lie hundreds of dead Philistines, including Saran and Ahtur. Samson lies among these, having completed his mission.

Cast

Awards and nominations

Production

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Casting

Burt Lancaster was the original choice to play Samson, but he declined due to a bad back. Body builder Steve Reeves was also considered and DeMille lobbied long and hard to get the studio to pick up Reeves, but both DeMille and the studio wanted Reeves to tone down his physique, which Reeves, still young and new to the industry, ultimately refused to do. Almost a decade later, Reeves found fame and cult status as another legendary strong man, Hercules, performing many of the same feats as Victor Mature in the Samson film. DeMille did not like Victor Mature and was outraged when Mature refused to wrestle the tame lion.

Director DeMille had a cameo in Sunset Boulevard in a scene where the character of Norma Desmond meets with him on a film set. The film being shot is Samson and Delilah.

Nancy Olson, under contract to Paramount Pictures, later claimed she was considered for the role of Delilah. Instead, she accepted what would become her most memorable role, starring in Sunset Boulevard. Ironically, DeMille's cameo in Sunset Boulevard shows him filming a scene from Samson and Delilah. Olive Deering would reprise her role of Mariam in the form of an ancestor in The Ten Commandments.

The film gave radical early Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky his sole Hollywood filmmaking credit.[1]

It was remade in Bollywood as Aurat (1953 film) starring Prem Nath and his real-life wife Bina Rai.[2]

Box office performance

This film was enormously successful, taking in $11,000,000 at the box office, making it the top moneymaker for 1950.[2]

See also

References

  1. ^ "NY Times: Samson and Delilah". NY Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/42719/Samson-and-Delilah/details. Retrieved 2008-12-20.  
  2. ^ Steinberg, Cobbett (1980). Film Facts. New York: Facts on File, Inc.. p. 21. ISBN 0-87196-313-2.   When a film is released late in a calendar year (October to December), its income is reported in the following year's compendium, unless the film made a particularly fast impact (p. 17)

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