As we delve into the classics it is time to pull from the pages of one of the most popular books of all time. Recently remastered and now on Blu-Ray for the very first time, "Samson and Delilah" is a story of passion and treachery pulled from the pages of a book that millions learn life lessons from.
"Samson and Delilah" follows the story of the Bible's legendary strongman (Victor Mature) and the woman who seduces and then betrays him (Hedy LaMarr) after he rejects her affection in favor of another. As she enacts her vengeance it has consequences that neither of them would have been able to imagine.
One of the final films in the legendary career of director Cecil B Demille, "Samson and Delilah" the winner of two Academy Awards doesn't quite have the same epic scope as some of Demille's other bible epics but it still works as a decent piece of storytelling. Through the use of some excellent art direction and vibrant costume design, Demille has always had a knack for putting us straight into the moment even though they never leave the studio lot. With his elaborate set pieces and colourful design schemes the narrative of the story flows at a reasonable rate, despite the occasionally clunky moment, but granted these are stories from the bible meant to be used as life lessons, and it isn't supposed to be Shakespeare. Demille boils down the message to its bare basics and it mostly works even though it gets more than a little obvious and even forced at times. The script could have easily done with a little bit of tightening up at times, as the overall message did drift and get forgotten sometimes, however they did get back on track fairly quickly during those odd incongruous moments.
Victor Mature was a solid well built leading man, who got a lot of work in Film Noirs, Westerns and Period war pieces and he certainly had the look to play the iconic Samson. The role wasn't written with a terrible amount of range to it, but he did a fine job with what he was given. Hedy LaMarr got to sizzle on screen as Delilah as she gleefully tore into the role as it required, chewing the scenery at every turn making her the true star of the film that she easily carried. The supporting ensemble is rounded out with some familiar faces of the time and some regular Demille players including George Sanders, Henry Wilcoxon and in one of her early on screen roles we see a very young Angela Landsbury. Essentially a little odd to see a film of this magnitude being carried by a woman, considering the time period but Hedy LaMarr did a great job with it and it's a shame she never really got a chance to get any traction in post WWII Hollywood as an actress.
The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are very good, however the only special feature is the theatrical trailer.
Hardly the most memorable of the Cecil B Demille films, it was even a little forgettable at moments, but what "Samson and Delilah" did achieve was foreshadow some of the spectacle we would be treated to in his final two films The Greatest Show on Earth and The Ten Commandments and is still worth a look if you like a good solid bible epic.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Samson & Delilah" is now available for rent or purchase on DVD & Blu-Ray from all major providers and retailers.