SAMSON AND DELILAH
1949, Paramount, 131 min, USA, Dir: Cecil B. DeMille

No one brought the Bible to the big screen with more gusto than director Cecil B. DeMille, who initially tried to adapt the tragic love story of the strongman and his Philistine temptress in the mid-1930s. Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr smolder in the title roles, with strong support from George Sanders, Angela Lansbury and Henry Wilcoxon. A huge box office hit, this Technicolor epic picked up Oscars for Best Art Direction and Costume Design.


THE TEN COMMANDMENTS 1923
1923, Paramount, 136 min, USA, Dir: Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille produced and directed this epic silent film, told in two parts, starring Estelle Taylor, Theodore Roberts, Charles de Roche, Richard Dix and Leatrice Joy. The first part (shot in two-color Technicolor) tells the biblical tale, adapted from the Book of Exodus, of the prophet Moses leading the Children of Israel from bondage under the Egyptian Pharaohs into the Promised Land. Things go awry, however, when Moses goes to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God and the Israelites renounce their faith to worship the Golden Calf. The second part (shot in black-and-white) reflects the efficacy of the Ten Commandments in people’s everyday lives through a modern-day parable involving two brothers - one a saint, the other a sinner - in love with the same girl. Architecture and the evils of shoddy construction practices figure in as well as some jaunty 1920s dialog and fashions. Remade by DeMille in 1956 with Charlton Heston as Moses.


THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
1988, Universal, 164 min, USA, Dir: Martin Scorsese

An insightful, intensely personal adaptation of the Nikos Kazantzakis novel that dares to portray Jesus as human as well as divine. Willem Dafoe is a realistic, believable Christ beset by doubt, whose faith and selflessness finally triumph in the ultimate self-sacrifice. This indelibly moving film features a dream cast, with Harvey Keitel as an idealistic Judas tortured by unfolding destiny and a luminous Barbara Hershey as a sensual, sensitive Mary Magdalene.


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