Sodom and Gomorrah (1962 film)
|Sodom and Gomorrah|
|Directed by||Robert Aldrich|
|Produced by||Joseph E. Levine
|Written by||Giorgio Prosperi
|Music by||Miklós Rózsa|
Cyril J. Knowles
|Edited by||Mario Serandrei
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
111 min (cut edition)
|Box office||$2,500,000 (US/ Canada)
1,614,441 admissions (France)
Sodom and Gomorrah — known in the USA as The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah — is a 1962 epic film which is loosely based on the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. The film was a Franco-Italian-American co-production made by Pathé, SGC and Titanus. It was directed by Robert Aldrich and produced by Maurizio Lodi-Fe, Goffredo Lombardo and Joseph E. Levine. The screenplay was by Giorgio Prosperi and Hugo Butler, the cinematography by Alfio Contini, Silvano Ippoliti, Cyril J. Knowles and Mario Montuori, the music score by Miklós Rózsa, the production design by Ken Adam and the costume design by Giancarlo Bartolini Salimbeni and Peter Tanner.
The twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah prosper because of their great deposits of salt, which are mined by an army of slaves. The decadent citizens, who have become wealthy by trading salt, live in luxury and use slaves as servants and for violent games of entertainment.
After a night of revelry, Astorath (Stanley Baker), the Prince of Sodom, tells slave girl Tamar (Scilla Gabel) to carry a message to the king of the Elamites, with whom he plans to overthrow his sister, Bera, Queen of Sodom (Anouk Aimée). Returning from her meeting in the desert with the Elamite leader, Tamar's is captured by a Sodomite patrol. Queen Brea demands the name of her co-conspirator. Tamar refuses to speak under interrogation and Bera has her and her two young sisters killed.
Meanwhile, Lot (Granger) leads his family and a Hebrew tribe through the desert, hoping that he can find a permanent home for his people along the fertile banks of the River Jordan. By contrast with the people of the twin cities the Hebrews are presented as a pious and austere people with high moral standards. As the Hebrews approach their destination, Lot meets the beautiful Ildith (Pier Angeli), who luxuriates in a litter while a group of slave girls in chains precede her over the rocky terrain. Lot assumes that Ildith owns these women. She tells him that she is also a slave, albeit the chief of the Queen of Sodom's body slaves. Lot tells her that owning slaves is evil. The following dialog ensues:
Ildith: "Evil? How strange you are. Where I come from, nothing is evil. Everything that gives pleasure is good."
Lot: "Where do you come from?"
Ildith: "There, not far. Just ahead: Sodom and Gomorrah."
Once Lot and his people reach the Jordan, he negotiates the use of the land on one side of the river with Queen Bera, promising her both grain and defense should Sodom's desert enemies attack. He makes one provision to their deal: any slave of Sodom who reaches the Hebrew camp will be granted asylum. She agrees, and in a surprising turn, gives Lot Ildith. Ildith is unwilling to leave the queen and her life of luxury in Sodom. Astorath is disgusted and baffled by his sister's easy terms with the Hebrews. However, he soon turns his attentions to Lot's flirtatious daughter, Shuah (Rossana Podestà).
Ildith dislikes the rough conditions of the Hebrew camp, but soon becomes a friend to Lot's daughters. She and Lot also fall in love and plan to marry. Love also blooms elsewhere in the camp as Shuah and Prince Astorath begin a secret affair. Lot's other daughter, Maleb (Claudia Mori) and his headstrong lieutenant, Ishmael (Rik Battaglia) also plan a marriage.
Lot and Ildith's wedding day celebrations are interrupted by an Elamite attack. Although the Hebrew farmers and the Sodomite soldiers fight valiantly, they are nearly defeated by the fierce nomadic warriors. As a last, desperate measure, Lot orders the dam that the Hebrews have built to be broken. His quick thinking saves the twin cities and the Hebrews, but the camp and the crops are destroyed. However, the flood waters reveal that the Hebrew camp is also the site of a vast salt deposit. Lot now believes that the Hebrews can move out of the wilderness and live among the Sodomites ("Separate, but in their full view," he cautions) by selling salt. (In the original Roadshow prints, this is where the theatrical intermission occurred.)
Some time later, Lot and Ildith now live in luxury in Sodom. Sodomites and Hebrews both revere Lot and seek his judgment. Ishmael however, believes that Lot has succumbed to luxury and instead should raise a force to liberate Sodom's mine slaves. Lot disagrees and advises Ishmael to wait, believing that the Sodomites will change their ways in time. Ishmael does not heed Lot and unsuccessfully tries to set the slaves free. He believes that the Hebrews will harbour the slaves, but they instead shut their doors on the desperate men who are soon recaptured and tortured to death. As the newly appointed minister of justice, Lot must now sentence Ishmael. However Ishmael is only one of Lot's problems, as he is confronted by the jealous Prince Astorath, who tells him that not only has he had both of Lot's daughters, but that Ildith has kept these affairs secret. An outraged Lot kills Astorath.
At this point, Queen Bera's plot becomes clear: she used the Hebrews to destroy the Elamite threat and also used Lot to rid her of her scheming brother. Lot becomes deeply remorseful that he has killed and that he has led his family and people into sin. Bera has him taken to prison.
While Lot asks God for forgiveness and guidance, two angels appear to tell him that God is displeased with the twin cities and will destroy them. Lot pleads with the angels to spare the city if he can find just ten Sodomite citizens who will repent and leave the cities with him. The angels agree and free both Lot and Ishmael from prison.
Meanwhile, many recaptured slaves are tortured to death on the wheel. As Queen Bera exclaims "But wait, the games have just begun," Lot appears seeking ten righteous Sodomites.
Although he has God's consent, Lot finds it impossible to persuade any Sodomite citizens to follow him, only the slaves are willing to accompany him. Even his own daughters, who believe Lot a hypocrite, at first refuse. Ildith, however, convinces them to leave, hoping that they will someday understand their father and his greatness as a leader. Shuah goes only grudgingly, telling Lot that she hopes to see him suffering as she is now that Astorath is dead.
Immediately after the Hebrews and Sodomite slaves leave, God assails Sodom with earthquakes and lightning. Queen Bera retreats with her slave Orphea to her palace, where they are killed under the collapsing pillars. Everybody flees into the streets and are crushed by collapsing towers. Not one single Sodomite lives to tell the tale.
Meanwhile Ildith now wishes she were back in Sodom. Despite her love for Lot, Ildith cannot accept his God, choosing to believe in Lot rather than in a Divine plan. Despite Lot's warnings, Ildith looks back at Sodom. God turns her into a pillar of salt just as He destroys the city with an atom bomb-like explosion. Lot collapses in grief. Maleb and Shuah rush to comfort him. He staggers off with the Hebrews, who wander the desert once more.
- Stewart Granger as Lot
- Anouk Aimée as Queen Bera
- Pier Angeli as Ildith
- Stanley Baker as Prince Astaroth
- Rossana Podestà as Shuah
- Rik Battaglia as Melchior
- Giacomo Rossi-Stuart as Ishmael
- Scilla Gabel as Tamar
- Anthony Steffen as The Captain (as Antonio de Teffi)
- Gabriele Tinti as Lieutenant
- Enzo Fiermonte as Eber
- Daniele Vargas as Segur
- Claudia Mori as Maleb
- Feodor Chaliapin Jr. as Alabias
- Mitsuko Takara as Orphea
- Massimo Pietrobon as Isaac
- Mimmo Palmara as Arlok
- Liana Del Balzo as Rich Hebrew woman
- Francesco Tensi as 1st old man
- Andrea Tagliabue as Eber's son
- Alice Kessler as Dancer
- Ellen Kessler as Dancer
- Vittorio Artesi as Eber's other son (uncredited)
- Pietro Ceccarelli as Officer in Sodom (uncredited)
- Giovanna Galletti as Malik (uncredited)
- Primo Moroni as 2nd old man (uncredited)
- Mimmo Poli as Queen's cupbearer
Joseph E. Levine was enticed into a co production with the Italian company Titanus. Levine:
All I saw was a bad script. They wanted a million dollars. I said 'let's get a good script and spent two million. I'll put up 60% of two million. The cost went up to $6 million. But not out of my pocket. I pay only 60% of two million.
Sergio Leone was hired to shoot some second unit photography but he left during the shoot - either quitting or being fired. Location shooting took place near Marrakesh and the budget grew from $2 million to $5 million.
The film is notable for featuring the last of Miklos Rozsa's epic film scores. Rozsa, who replaced Dimitri Tiomkin, thought the film was tacky and inferior. In January, 2007, Digitmovies AE released a nearly complete version of the score on a two-CD set, which is taken from the Legend LP recording. Previously, other selections from the score were available on two CDs: one from Cambria Records and Publishing, which is taken from the composer's mono recordings and one from BMG, which is taken from the original LP.
The movie was one of the 12 most popular films at the British box office in 1963.
Time Out's review states that the film was a "low point" in the director's career and that the film represented a 1960s tackiness thankfully not seen anymore.
- Alain Silver and James Ursini, Whatever Happened to Robert Aldrich?, Limelight, 1995 p 260
- "Top Rental Features of 1963", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 71. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p229
- Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story
- French box office results for Robert Aldrich films at Box Office Story
- By MURRAY SCHUMACH Special to The New,York Times. (1961, Nov 09). MOVIE PRODUCER SELLS THE PUBLIC. New York Times (1923-Current File). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/115281397?accountid=13902
- Brian Trenchard Smith on Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah at Trailers from Hell
- Christopher Frayling Ken Adam and the Art of Production Design, London and New York: Faber, 2005, p.91
- "Most Popular Films Of 1963." Times [London, England] 3 Jan. 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
- GA [Geoff Andrew] Time Out Film; John Pym (ed.) Time Out Film Guide 2009, London: Ebury, 2008, p.986