Samson and Delilah (1949 film)
|Samson and Delilah|
1968 theatrical re-release poster
|Directed by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Produced by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Written by||Fredric M. Frank
Vladimir Jabotinsky (book, scr.)
Jesse Lasky Jr.
|Music by||Victor Young
Ray Evans (song)
Jay Livingston (song)
|Editing by||Anne Bauchens|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||128 minutes|
|Box office||$11.5 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
Samson and Delilah is a 1949 film made by Paramount Pictures (and one of few pre-1950 films by the studio to remain under its ownership), produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr as the title characters. Angela Lansbury, George Sanders and Henry Wilcoxon are also featured.
The story of Samson and Delilah is adapted from the Biblical Book of Judges.
Samson, a Hebrew placed under Nazirite vows from birth by his mother, is engaged to a Philistine woman named Semadar. At their engagement, Samson loses a bet with his wedding guests (owing by a large part to Semadar) and attacks thirty Philistines to strip them of their cloaks to pay his betting debt. When his deeds become known, Semadar is killed during their wedding feast; Samson becomes a hunted man and in his fury he begins fighting the Philistines. The Saran of Gaza (Sanders) imposes heavy taxes on the Dannites, with the purpose of having Samson betrayed by his own people. Saran's plan works, and frustrated Dannites hand over Samson to the Philistines, much to the joy of Delilah, Semadar's sister. Samson is taken by the high general Ahtur (Wilcoxon) and a regiment of Philistine troops. En route back to Gaza, Ahtur decides to taunt Samson. Samson rips apart his chains and ropes and begins to combat the Philistines, toppling Ahtur's war chariot and using the jawbone of an ass to club the Philistine soldiers to death.
News of the defeat of Ahtur at the hands of Samson reaches Saran. Saran ponders how to defeat Samson. Delilah comes up with the idea of seducing Samson, thus having him reveal the secret of his strength and then deliver him for punishment. Her plan works; she cuts his hair, which he feels gives him his strength. In order to fully neutralize him, Samson is blinded by his captors, put to slave work and is eventually brought to the temple of Dagon for the entertainment of the Philistines and of Saran.
However, in the meantime Delilah has unknowingly fallen in love with Samson, and his blinding and torture make her feel deep remorse over her betrayal. She attends the public torture wielding a whip, in order to help him flee, but Samson instead asks to be brought to the temple's main support pillars. Once he stands between them, he tells Delilah to run, but she remains, unseen by him, as he pushes the pillars apart. The pillars give way and the temple collapses, burying Samson, Delilah, and all the Philistines inside alive. In the end the temple lies in rubble, and Saul and Miriam, his two closest Hebrew friends, are left to mourn Samson's passing.
- Hedy Lamarr as Delilah
- Victor Mature as Samson
- George Sanders as The Saran of Gaza
- Angela Lansbury as Semadar
- Henry Wilcoxon as Ahtur
- Russ Tamblyn as Saul
- Olive Deering as Miriam
- Edgar Dearing as Tax collector
- Fay Holden as Hazeleponit
- Julia Faye as Haisham, Delilah's maid
- William Farnum as Tubal, father of Delilah and Semadar
- Lane Chandler as Teresh
- Moroni Olsen as Targif
- Francis McDonald as Storyteller
- Wee Willie Davis as Garmiskar
- John Miljan as Lesh Lakish
- George Reeves as Wounded messenger
- Nils Asther as Prince
- Mike Mazurki as Leader of Philistine soldiers
- Jeff York as Spectator at temple (uncredited)
- Harry Cording as Prince (uncredited)
- Jerry Maren had a bit role (uncredited)
- Robert St. Angelo as Soldier (uncredited)
- Margaret Field as Spectator at Temple (uncredited)
Awards and nominations 
- Academy Award for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Color (Hans Dreier, Walter H. Tyler, Sam Comer, Ray Moyer, winners)
- Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Color (Edith Head, Dorothy Jeakins, Elois Jenssen, Gile Steele, Gwen Wakeling, winners)
- Academy Award for Best Cinematography (nominee)
- Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (nominee)
- Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (nominee)
- Golden Globe for Best Color Cinematography (nominee)
Casting and production 
Burt Lancaster was the original choice to play Samson, but he declined due to a bad back. Body builder Steve Reeves was also considered and DeMille lobbied long and hard to get the studio to pick up Reeves, but both DeMille and the studio wanted Reeves to tone down his physique, which Reeves, still young and new to the industry, ultimately refused to do. Almost a decade later, Reeves found fame and cult status as another legendary strong man, Hercules, performing many of the same feats as Victor Mature in the Samson film. DeMille did not like Victor Mature and was outraged when Mature refused to wrestle the tame lion.
Director DeMille had a cameo in Billy Wilder's film Sunset Boulevard in a scene where the character of Norma Desmond meets with the director on a film set at Paramount studios. The film being shot is Samson and Delilah.
For the role of Delilah, actresses Märta Torén, Viveca Lindfors, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Jane Greer, Greer Garson, and Maureen O'Hara were considered but the part went to Hedy Lamarr after DeMille saw her during a screening of the film The Strange Woman. DeMille would later describe Lamarr as "a gazelle–incapable of a clumsy or wrong move", and she would flirtatiously refer to herself as "Delilah" and DeMille as her "Samson".
Nancy Olson, under contract to Paramount Pictures, later claimed she was considered for the role of Delilah. Instead, she accepted what would become her most memorable role, starring in Sunset Boulevard. Ironically, DeMille's cameo in Sunset Boulevard shows him filming a scene from Samson and Delilah. Olive Deering would reprise her role of Miriam in the form of an ancestor in DeMille's last film and subsequent biblical-epic, The Ten Commandments.
The film gave early Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky his sole Hollywood filmmaking credit (as the film was inspired by his book "Judge and Fool", aka "Samson the Nazarite, Samson & Prelude to Delilah").
Box office performance 
Restoration and home video release 
In 2012 a costly, 4K-scanned, digital restoration of Samson and Delilah was completed. The restored version received its première at Bologna's Il Cinema Ritrovato 2012, ahead of the film's first official DVD and Blu-ray release. Its DVD release was by Paramount on March 12, 2013.
All previous DVDs are pirated copies from official VHS cassettes or TV broadcasts.
See also 
- "All Time Domestic Champs", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- "NY Times: Samson and Delilah". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- An Interview with Steeve Reeves from The Perfect Vision Magazine, Volume 6 Issue, 22 July 1994, at DRKMR GALLERY
- Barton, Ruth (2010). Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film. p. 312.
- Vladimir Jabotinsky, imdb
- Steinberg, Cobbett (1980). Film Facts. New York: Facts on File, Inc. p. 21. ISBN 0-87196-313-2. When a film is released late in a calendar year (October to December), its income is reported in the following year's compendium, unless the film made a particularly fast impact (p. 17)
- "Vivien Leigh Actress Of The Year.". Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 29 December 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 9 July 2012.