Salome (1953 film)
Salome is a 1953 Biblical film made in technicolor by Columbia Pictures. It was directed by William Dieterle and produced by Buddy Adler from a screenplay by Harry Kleiner and Jesse Lasky Jr. The music score was by George Duning, the dance music by Daniele Amfitheatrof and the cinematography by Charles Lang. Hayworth's costumes by Jean Louis. Hayworth's dances for this film were choreographed by Valerie Bettis. This film was the last produced by Hayworth's production company, the Beckworth Corporation.
Original film poster
|Directed by||William Dieterle|
|Produced by||Buddy Adler|
|Screenplay by||Harry Kleiner|
|Story by||Jesse Lasky Jr.|
|Music by||George Duning|
|Edited by||Viola Lawrence|
The Beckworth Corporation
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$4.75 million (US)|
3,0047,090 admissions (France)
Although based on the New Testament story, the film does not follow the biblical text and is highly fictionalized. In Galilee, during the rule of Rome's Tiberius Caesar (Cedric Hardwicke), King Herod (Charles Laughton) and Queen Herodias (Judith Anderson) sit on the throne and are condemned by a prophet known as John the Baptist (Alan Badel). Herodias resents John's denunciation of her marriage to the king, her former husband's brother, and the Baptist's claim that she is an adulteress. The king is not pleased with the Baptist condemning his rule, but fears a slow and agonizing death that his father, the elder Herod, suffered after ordering the murder of firstborn males when Jesus was born. The prophecy states that if Herod kills the Messiah, he will suffer and die. The king believes John the Baptist is the Messiah because of the mistaken belief of some peasants.
After petitioning Caesar to marry Salome, Marcellus- nephew of Caesar- receives a message stating that he is forbidden to marry a "barbarian." Salome is also sent a message that she is banished from Rome and will be escorted back to Galilee, despite having lived in Rome most of her life. When Marcellus does nothing to protest Caesar's decree, she declares that she shall never love another Roman.
On the boat escorting her home, Salome meets Claudius, a Roman soldier assigned to the palace of Herod. He is amused by her haughty behavior and thwarts her attempt to order him around when she demands to use drinking water instead of sea water for her bath aboard the ship. When he brings sea water instead, he interrupts her angry confrontation by stealing a long kiss, which earns him a slap across the face.
Queen Herodias greets her daughter warmly when she arrives at the palace, and becomes aware of the lecherous intentions of the king, who marvels at Princess Salome's beauty. The queen sends Salome away and consults with her advisor, who agrees that the queen can use the king's desire for Salome for her own benefit. It is revealed that the queen is trapped in a loveless and potentially deadly marriage to the king because she wishes to preserve the throne for her daughter. Meanwhile, Salome sneaks into the marketplace with several servants to hear John the Baptist speak. She reveals her identity by speaking out and is spared from the angry crowd by John the Baptist, who calms them and denounces violence. Salome returns, upset by what she has heard, and later beguiles Claudius with romantic kisses in an attempt to have him arrest John the Baptist to spare her mother's potential death as an adulteress. She exits the room angrily after he refuses her request.
Shortly after, the king decides to arrest John the Baptist, ostensibly for treason but in reality to protect him from the actions of his wife. The trial ends with the king locking up John the Baptist. Salome hears that the prophet has been arrested; she thinks that Claudius did it for her, and apologizes to him for her behavior the night before. After she leaves, he learns that the king has imprisoned the Baptist and pleads for his release, but is unable to persuade the king. Claudius rushes off to Jerusalem on horseback to seek his release.
The king visits Salome, who bids Claudius farewell from the balcony, and is irritated that she pays him attention. Herod suggests after giving the princess a necklace that she "find pleasure in the moment," which disgusts her, and she subsequently rejects his gift, reminding him that his queen is her mother. Claudius meets with Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. Pilate refuses to release the Baptist because he preaches against Rome, then turns his attention to Claudius. He forbids Claudius from returning to Galilee, but does not arrest him because of their friendship. Outside, after the argument, Claudius hears about a miracle worker in Bethlehem and travels to see the prophet. He then returns to the palace, where Salome runs to greet him with a tearful embrace. She dreads dancing for the king to honor the queen's wishes for the Baptist's death, as it would mean surrendering her will to the king. Claudius leads Salome to John the Baptist's cell, where he tells the prisoner of the miracle worker in the presence of the princess. Salome is in love with the heroic Roman soldier Claudius (Granger) who converts to Christianity, and decides to help him.
Claudius and Salome both rush off to try to save the Baptist's life. Claudius forcefully removes the Baptist from his cell and clashes with the palace guards; Salome dances a wild, enchanting dance and removes layers of clothing, thinking this will please the king, then she will ask him to set John free. But as she dances Herod tells Herodias that he will do anything for her because he likes the dance so much. Herodias asks him to kill John and John is beheaded before Salome finishes her dance. Horrified, she renounces her mother Herodias, who planned and ordered the execution, and also becomes a Christian convert. The last scene shows Salome and Claudius listening to Christ (whose face is not shown) delivering the Sermon on the Mount.
- Rita Hayworth as Princess Salome
- Stewart Granger as Commander Claudius
- Charles Laughton as King Herod
- Judith Anderson as Queen Herodias
- Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Tiberius Caesar
- Alan Badel as John the Baptist
- Basil Sydney as Pontius Pilate
- Maurice Schwartz as Ezra the King's Advisor
- Arnold Moss as Micha the Queen's Advisor
- Asoka as Oriental Dancer
- Sujata as Oriental Dancer
The original title of the film was Salome - Dance of the Seven Veils. The film was based on the books The Good Tidings by William Sidney; Robert Ardrey wrote the first script. It was made for Hayworth's own company, Beckworth Productions, for Columbia Release.
According to her biographers, Hayworth's erotic Dance of the Seven Veils routine was "the most demanding of her entire career", necessitating "endless takes and retakes".
Stewart Granger was borrowed from MGM for the male lead.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called the film "a flamboyant, Technicolored romance" with "a righteously sanctimonious air, suggesting the whole thing is intended to be taken on a high religious plane." Variety wrote that Hayworth's performance was "among her best," but "the film doesn't deliver on the promised sex-religion combo and needs more hokum, spectacle and excitement to click with the regular run of filmgoers." Edwin Schallert of the Los Angeles Times called the film "a gaudy and garish affair" with its primary weakness being "discovering just what sort of a woman Salome is supposed really to be. Neither story creators nor Rita herself cast too much light on that." Orval Hopkins of The Washington Post called it "gee-whiz picture" with "tremendous" color shots, "startling" scenes aboard the Roman galley and some acting "of the scenery-chewing variety. Altogether, this is a whale of a spectacle." Harrison's Reports declared, "It is a fairly spectacular production, has fine photography, and considerable sex exposure, but the story does not touch one's heartstrings." The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "Salome seems wholly fake, even its vulgarity strikes one as lifeless ... Rita Hayworth, though she performs her dances like a Trojan, seems sadly to have lost her earlier vitality. The generally oppressive and shoddy atmosphere, in fact, is relieved only by hilarious over-playing by Judith Anderson as Herodias."
- 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954
- Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story
- By THOMAS M PRYOR Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (1952, May 31). CHARLES LAUGHTON SIGNS FOR 'SALOME'. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/112395131
- OMAS M PRYOR Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (1952, Feb 13). WALD AND KRASNA TO REMAKE 'RAIN'. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/112532734
- Edward Z. Epstein and Joseph Morella (1984) Rita: The Life of Rita Hayworth. London, Comet: 200
- By THOMAS M PRYOR Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (1952, Jun 17). TV COMEDY STARS SIGNING FOR FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/112265367
- Crowther, Bosley (March 25, 1953). "' Salome,' at Rivoli, Stars Rita Hayworth as Enchantress of the Biblical Story". The New York Times. 37.
- "Film Reviews: Salome". Variety. March 18, 1953. 6.
- Schallert, Edwin (April 16, 1953). "Whitewashed 'Salome' Afflicted With Variety of Phony Elements". Part II, p. 10.
- Hopkins, Orval (April 8, 1953). "Rita's Back to Her Dancing In a Spectacular 'Salome'". The Washington Post. 31.
- "'Salome' with Rita Hayworth, Stewart Granger and Charles Laughton". Harrison's Reports. March 14, 1953. 44.
- "Salome". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 20 (234): 102. July 1953.
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