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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Salome (1953)

After being spurned by her Roman lover (Rex Reason), the Princess Salome (Rita Hayworth) returns home to Galilee where she finds one John the Baptist (Alan Badel) preaching against her mother, the Queen Herodias (Judith Anderson). Trapped in a loveless marriage to Herod (Charles Laughton), the Queen plots to use Salome to get her revenge on the Baptist. Most Hollywood biblical epics have very little to do with the actual biblical texts and contain lots of padded fabrication. Even taking that into account, the film's portrayal of Salome as a good hearted girl gone wrong and saved by love and Christianity comes across as quite ludicrous. The film, directed by William Dieterle (PORTRAIT OF JENNIE), is too earnest in its telling and lacks the vulgarity that often makes these types of films great fun. Hayworth, at age 35, is far too mature for the young Salome. Laughton doesn't have much to feast on but Anderson makes for a marvelously malevolent Queen. The film's highpoint is Hayworth's Dance Of The Seven Veils (choreographed by Valerie Bettis) which alone makes the film a must have for Hayworth's completists. The normally inoffensive Stewart Granger is actually quite deadly here and he and Hayworth have no chemistry. George Duning did the score proper with Daniele Amfitheatrof doing the music for Hayworth's dances. With Cedric Hardwicke, Arnold Moss and Basil Sydney.

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