Judith of Bethulia

Judith of Bethulia (1914) is an American film starring Blanche Sweet and Henry B. Walthall, and produced and directed by D. W. Griffith, based on the play of the same name by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. The film was the first feature-length film made by pioneering film company Biograph, although the second that Biograph released.[1][2]

Judith of Bethulia
Directed byD. W. Griffith
Written byThomas Bailey Aldrich
D. W. Griffith
Frank E. Woods
StarringBlanche Sweet
Henry B. Walthall
CinematographyG. W. Bitzer
Edited byJames Smith
Distributed byGeneral Film Company
Release date
  • March 8, 1914 (1914-03-08)
Running time
61 mins.
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles

Shortly after its completion and a disagreement Griffith had with Biograph executives on making more future feature-length films, Griffith left Biograph, and took the entire stock company with him. Biograph delayed the picture's release until 1914, after Griffith's departure, so that it would not have to pay him in a profit-sharing agreement they had.


The film is based on the deuterocanonical Book of Judith. During the siege of the Jewish city of Bethulia by the Assyrians, a widow named Judith (Blanche Sweet) has a plan to stop the war as her people suffer starvation and are ready to surrender.

The widow disguises herself as a harem girl and goes to the enemy camp, where she beguiles a general of King Nebuchadnezzar, whose army is besieging the city. Judith seduces Holofernes (Henry Walthall), then while he is drunk cuts off his head with a sabre. She returns to her city, a heroine.



The reviews were favorable: Variety, March 27, 1914, wrote: "It is not easy to confess one's self unequal to a given task, but to pen an adequate description of the Biograph's production of 'Judith of Bethulia' is, to say the least, a full grown man's job."

The Moving Picture World, March 7, 1914, described it as: "A fascinating work of high artistry, 'Judith of Bethulia' will not only rank as an achievement in this country, but will make foreign producers sit up and take notice."[3]

See also


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