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Samson & Delilah (1949)


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Links to our threads on other Cecil B. DeMille Bible epics The Ten Commandments (1923, 1956), The King of Kings (1927) and The Sign of the Cross (1932).

Link to our thread on the Australian film Samson & Delilah (2009), which is *not* a Bible epic.

Link to our thread on Scott Silver's "futuristic" Samson movie.

The DVD format has been with us since the late 20th century, and the Blu-Ray format has been with us for nearly half as long, but it wasn't until a couple months ago that Paramount *finally* put out an official DVD release of Samson & Delilah, starring Victor Mature & Hedy Lamarr... and even then, they declined to put it out on Blu-Ray for some reason.

In any case, here are my thoughts on the film. Comes complete with screen-captures of cameos in the film by Superman and Elmer Fudd. (I told myself I'd keep my post down to a thousand words, but somehow I ended up tripling that.)

You can also watch an inferior copy of the film on YouTube (although I'll give the YouTube version this much credit: it doesn't have the "windowbox" format that the DVD has):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLqgrrACUe0

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Comes complete with screen-captures of cameos in the film by Superman and Elmer Fudd.

Cameos in the film by *actors who played* Superman and Elmer Fudd. No flying man or "I tawt I taw a Philistine," unless I missed something.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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No flying man or "I tawt I taw a Philistine," unless I missed something.

Well, that would be Tweety Bird, not Elmer.

One interesting bit about the screenplay is that Samson and his pals are constantly referred to as "Danites," as if Dan were the only Israelite tribe of concern to the Philistines. I can't promise that "Israel" or "Israelite" never appears in the screenplay, but if it does it certainly receives less emphasis than "Danite." Given that the film {a} was released less than a year after the new State of Israel was admitted to the UN; and {b} was based on a novel by Zionist author Vladimir Jabotinksy, one has to wonder if there was a particular reason for de-emphasizing references to Israel in a context where one might expect the opposite to happen.

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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Tyler wrote:

: Oh, right. It should have been, "Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting Philistines."

Ha!

mrmando wrote:

: One interesting bit about the screenplay is that Samson and his pals are constantly referred to as "Danites," as if Dan were the only Israelite tribe of concern to the Philistines.

'Tis interesting, indeed. Like I say in my blog post, the film seems to lump Saul in with the Danites, when the Bible clearly -- and forebodingly -- indicates that he came from Benjamin. (And of course, David, who went on to slay many Philistines, was from Judah. Etc.)

Most of the maps I just looked up via Google indicate that Dan, Judah and possibly Benjamin were the only tribes that bordered Philistia, so it at least makes sense that those tribes come up most often in stories about the Israelites' clashes with the Philistines. (Some maps place Dan way up north by the sea of Galilee, though, which is weird. Is that because there was a city named Dan there?)

: I can't promise that "Israel" or "Israelite" never appears in the screenplay, but if it does it certainly receives less emphasis than "Danite."

Interesting... FWIW, I just scanned my notes and didn't turn up the word "Israel" there, at any rate. (I typed out quite a few lines of dialogue as I was watching the film.)

: Given that the film {a} was released less than a year after the new State of Israel was admitted to the UN . . .

Oh, interesting. I completely forgot to link the film to real-world politics as I was writing my post.

One other interesting wrinkle here is that the name "Palestine" is derived from the word "Philistine". I could be mistaken, but I think it was the Romans who permanently affixed the name of the Philistines to that geographical region.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Alex von Tunzelmann @ the Guardian gives the film a B for both entertainment and history.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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