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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Last Days Of Pompeii (1935)

After his wife (Gloria Shea) and child die because of poverty, a blacksmith (Preston Foster) becomes a gladiator and later as a slave dealer which makes him one of the wealthiest men in Pompeii. While a gladiator, he killed the father of a small child (David Holt as a boy, John Wood as a man) and he raises him as his own son. Throughout the story, the presence of Mount Vesuvius hovers ominously over the city. The film takes its title from the 1834 novel by Edward Bulwer Lytton but nothing else, the film's plot has nothing to do with the book. The Ernest B. Schoedsack (MIGHTY JOE YOUNG) film is a rather crude example of the early biblical epic. It's a pretty dull affair until the film's last twenty minutes or so when Vesuvius erupts and the film's superb (for its day) special effects kick in. But up to that point, the film needs not its sincere "good taste" and pious Christianity but a little DeMille vulgarity to liven things up. There's an effective underscore by Roy Webb. With Basil Rathbone as Pontius Pilate, Louis Calhern and Dorothy Wilson.

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