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on March 14, 2013
In the history of filmmaking, no other director handled the genre of Biblical epics with more panache and reverence than Cecil B. DeMille. Yet, in his entire celebrated career the director made only five such movies: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1923), KING OF KINGS (1927), THE SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932), SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949), and his own remake of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956).

The fourth film in DeMille's Biblical canon is his most passionate, and its style and structure was responsible for inspiring the highly successful Italian sword and sandal sub-genre a decade later. From the moment that scroll unfurls introducing the opening title - CECIL B. DEMILLE'S SAMSON AND DELILAH - you know you're going to be in for a thoroughly satisfying viewing experience. Offering rip-roaring action, colorful spectacle, and sensual romance all presented in an engaging storytelling manner, this is a masterpiece of the kind only DeMille could make. The picture manages to stay quite faithful to the Bible account in Judges 13-16, with only a few instances where Jesse L. Lasky, Jr. and Fredric M. Frank's script takes dramatic license. For instance, the film depicts Samson's bride and Delilah as sisters whereas the Bible doesn't substantiate such a relationship between them. Also, in the movie Samson is blinded by a red-hot blade held close to his eyes, while in the actual account they're bored out of their sockets. Aside from these textual deviations the film is a largely accurate, vivid dramatization of the most famous romantic betrayal in recorded history.

Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr flesh out definitive portrayals in the lead roles; Mature is beefy and totally at ease playing the straying strongman whose weakness is women, and Lamarr is the epitome of the beautiful seductress who betrays him. The two actors are so perfectly suited as Samson and Delilah, that it's impossible to imagine someone else in their place. The supporting players are also top-notch: George Sanders is superb as the cynical Saran who has both envy and respect for Samson, Angela Lansbury plays Samson's fickle bride-to-be Semadar, and Henry Wilcoxon makes a strong impression as Samson's jealous rival, Ahtur.

The production values of SAMSON AND DELILAH are of the highest quality by 1949 standards, and the film won deserved Oscars for Hans Dreier and Walter Tyler's art direction, Sam Comer and Ray Moyer's set decoration and Edith Head's costumes. Gordon Jennings' special effects department created some spectacular visuals, which still pass muster today. The big climax set in the Philistine Temple of Dagon is a triumph of convincing miniature high-speed photography and integrated live action. George Barnes' Technicolor cinematogaphy is lush and artfully lit, reminiscent of the paintings by Rembrandt. I'd be amiss if I didn't give high praise for Victor Young's fabulous music score which, in my opinion, is one of the finest ever written. Everything about this DeMille extravaganza is done with an expertise and a showmanship that defined an era of great cinematic entertainment.

Paramount Home Video has finally released SAMSON AND DELILAH on DVD in meticulously restored condition, and it looks and sounds terrific - as good as it must've been on its initial release. This edition contains Victor Young's overture and exit music, which was also on the previous laser disc that served as the source for unauthorized DVD copies of this title. The new edition contains no special features, and has the standard menu options of English, French and Spanish subtitles, and scene selections. The audio is in the original mono. Looking as sumptuous as it does on DVD, it's curious why Paramount didn't opt for a Blu-ray edition. Maybe down the line...

Something many people today forget is that Cecil B. DeMille was one of the founding fathers of America's film industry. He made movies that were enormously popular with the public because he had an innate understanding of what people wanted and the creative ability to deliver it. SAMSON AND DELILAH demonstrates that inimitable DeMille touch to the fullest degree.

My highest recommendation.
1616 comments78 of 80 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 8, 2003
One of DeMille's finest, from the sets and costumes to the superb acting and expressive music. Even the bit players are wonderful (look for George Reeves as the wounded Messenger relating the Battle of Ramath-Lehi to an incredulous George Sanders in terms that echoed the intro to Reeves' most famous role a few years later!). Lamarr is stunning, Mature is intense ("Look about you, Delilah..."), Sanders plays himself as the world-weary Seran of Gaza. Even ol'warhorse and longtime DeMille associate Henry Wilcoxson gets to shine as Prince Atur (he was originally supposed to play Samson, but was considered too old). There is no counting of the stars. Five is not nearly enough.
Our only quibble is with the way Dagon is portrayed in the temple scene. All the decor is Babylonian, and the idol looks like Moloch, the Canaanite sun god to whom certain kings of Judah used to sacrifice infants until commanded by God, through King Josiah, to desist (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6; Jer. 7:31; 32:35; 2 Kings 23:10). The Philistines were related to the Phoenicians, not the Babylonians. Their wealth came from the sea. Dagon was an ocean god like Neptune, and was portrayed as a fish or a merman. The only decor in the movie that properly reflects Dagon are Delilah's fish earrings in the wedding scene.
This should be released on DVD so that like Miriam says at the end, we can watch his story "for a thousand years"!
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on February 2, 2013
After having the laser disc of this film for years now, they finally release it on DVD. I'm thinking this going to be the same as the laser disc( which is the best transfer so far. It was DeMilles own print, wich is the Road Show Version, With Overture and Exit music. There is also a seperate Music track with the isolated music Score by Victor Young ( one of his best Scores).The print was flawless.I don't know why Paramount hasn't thought of releasing this before they have had it since the early ninety's. Now its time for a cd release of the Complete score.I do hope this is the version thats coming out. Addendem: 02/27/2013 Just finished viewing the New Samson and Delilah It's the same as the laser disc With The overture and Exit Music, but no seperate music Track. The Transfer is Just magnificent The dolby mono soundtrack is Fine. It deserves 5 Stars.
33 comments48 of 53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 17, 2012
A recent announcement for this release stated: "The original nitrate three-strip Technicolor negatives were scanned in 4K, and the three strip image was registered, cleaned and color corrected in 4K. In addition, DeMille's original nitrate print was used in order to complete the original music overture and special effect work was done to clean up original optical images, a particularly tricky three-strip challenge. Finally, the original mono audio track was cleaned up and restored." Let me get this straight, Paramount went through all this, sparing no expense, for a standard DVD only release? I would have to give this restoration effort five stars, as well as five for the original film, which I adore. But, can the same company that gave us WINGS in BD in the initial release and a blu-ray of the original 1923 TEN COMMANDMENTS in the deluxe box set really be serious? Please, Paramount, stop kidding around and announce the blu-ray, already. Some of us were believing you wanted to lead us into the 21st Century blu-ray medium, not deny its existence.
1616 comments77 of 92 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 21, 2009
WARNING... THIS IS NOT RELEASED FROM ANY MAJOR STUDIO. It's from China and has english and chinese subtitles which never left my screen no matter where I started it from. It's not very clear but for a transfer from VHS to DVD it's okay. I asked for my money back as I don't care if it's hard to get, I'll wait till they do it right.
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on October 26, 2000
When "Samson and Delilah" was released in 1949, Hollywood was on the edge of its big Biblical boom, pictures like "The Robe" and "Salome". Cecil B DeMille had been doing this stuff for decades -- his original "The Ten Commandments" in 1923 and his "The Sign of the Cross" in 1932 -- and the fact is "Samson and Delilah" is a lot more entertaining than DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth", which won the Best Picture Oscar a couple of years later. Church groups made it a mission to the movies to see this two-hour epic version of the story that takes up three chapters in Judges. But this is not the Bible, this is Stories from the Bible, in comic book colors. I know, be nice, but I'm afraid DeMille took himself veeery seriously. His trailers often had him pontificating like an avuncular professor about Moses or Andrew Jackson or Charlton Heston. However, the contradiction in his films -- the Bible-thumping one minute and sniggering suggestions of sex the next -- make him seem like a carnival barker, selling an all-healing elixir before bringing out the burly-Q girls. I'm afraid it reveals a basic contempt for his audience. After 35 years, critics had become a little weary of DeMille's modus operandi; his 1956 re-make of "The Ten Commandents" was described by Playboy as "run-of-DeMille". The title roles in "Samson and Delilah" are played by Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr. I have never understood Mature's hunk status. His physique was not half as impressive as that of Burt Lancaster, who was originally set for the role. All Mature's musculature seems to have gone into his face, and when he tries to emote it's a little alarming. Much more impressive physically is Hedy Lamarr as Delilah. She was one of the most beautiful women ever to appear on the screen, but unfortunately she simply couldn't act. Hedy could take E=mc² and make it sound vacuous, and her habit of staring out of camera range makes one suspect she was addicted to cue cards. Of course, it could have been worse. Evidently DeMille wanted Betty Hutton for the role. Betty Hutton?? Why not Judy Canova? The picture was touted as a spectacle, but as such it's spotty. The fight with the lion is impossibly cheesy: in long shot Samson is obviously not Victor Mature, and in close-up, the lion looks like it should be splayed on Clyde Beatty's living room floor. More fortunate is the Valley of Sorek sequence. Delilah's opulent tent and her sparkling pool set amid ruins might have been designed by a Beverly Hills landscape artist. Maybe they were. (Edith Head designed Delilah's costumes, and to say they are eye-popping is an understatement.) The climax, of course, takes place in the Temple of Dagon. By this time Delilah is hopelessly in love with the blinded Samson, and it is she who leads him to the great pillars holding up the temple. (You won't find THAT in Judges!) The destruction of the temple is one of the great spectacles in cinema, even by today's standards. This was long before digital effects, so I assume the illusion was achieved with minatures and double exposures. When the dust clears, we find the young Saul (Russ Tamblyn, of all people) mourning Samson before trudging off to future royalty. An Irish kid as king of the Hebrews. The philistines be upon thee, indeed.
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on December 18, 2012
I will add to this review once the dvd is released.
In the meantime, it's so exciting that this Cecil B. DeMille
classic is finally headed to dvd after all these years.

Samson And Delilah (1949), which stars Victor Mature, Hedy Lamarr,
George Sanders and Angela Lansbury, is my favorite Biblical epic.
Quo Vadis is right up there, along with
The Ten Commandments, The Egyptian and Ben Hur.

Now that I have watched the dvd, I can say, it's not blu-ray,
but the good news is that it looks beautiful! It is sharp and clear
and the color is rich and glorious.

I don't know why Paramount waited so long to release this
classic film on dvd, but it is here now for everyone to enjoy.
Unfortunately, there are no special features.
review image review image review image
33 comments29 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 31, 2000
One of the greatest films ever made, "Samson and Delilah" stands out as a crowning achievement in Biblical epics, the trademark of legendary director Cecil B. DeMille. The story of Samson, the strongest of men, felled by the temptress Delilah is brought to the screen in majesty and splendor. Victor Mature is wonderful in his role as Samson, bringing a sense of humor and humanity to the role. Hedy Lamarr nearly overwhelms the brilliant Technicolor with her ravishing beauty as Delilah, sleek and seductive. As Delilah's sister, Angela Lansbury fares well in her brief role as do George Sanders (as a subtle ruler of the Philistines) and Henry Wilcoxon (as a military governor). And the actors are only one ornament to the production. The art direction is masterful and incredible. And the costumes... such gorgeous opulence and splendor were never seen since, sometimes almost stealing the scenes from the actors. Both categories won 1949 Academy Awards, giving Oscar's gilt to this classic. The film is immensely entertaining and superbly directed with reverence to the sacred texts by DeMille (at 128 minutes, dramatically shorter than DeMille's "Ten Commandments". But the special effects are one of the best reasons to see the film: Mature's three-minute fight with a lion, to the unbelievabe climatic scene in which Mature pulls down a temple of stone. A classic all the way through, "Samson and Delilah" is a film that you will never tire of, and always want to see again and again...I now quote the film's final words: "Men will tell his story for a thousand years." And if it lasts that long, men will watch this movie for a thousand years.
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on July 3, 2005
Cecil B. DeMille created one of the most entertaining Bible epics of the 1940's and 1950's when he directed "Samson and Delilah". The lavish sets and colorful costumes are simply wonderful and the cast is filled with well-known stars, like Victor Mature, Hedy Lamarr, George Sanders and Angela Lansbury. The movie won oscars for art direction/set decoration and costumes, but as usual the cast of a Biblical epic was ignored by the Academy Awards. Since nearly everyone's heard the Old Testament story of Samson and Delilah, I'll include only a very brief summary of the movie.

Victor Mature stars as Samson, a respected and feared Hebrew leader who is seduced by the Philistine femme fatale Delilah, unforgettably played by the sexy Hedy Lamarr. Samson fears no man because God has blessed him with amazing strength, and he kills many of his foes. When Delilah fears that Samson will leave her, she betrays him to the local Philistine ruler (George Sanders) after learning the secret of Samson's extraordinary strength lies in his long hair, which she promptly cuts. Now reduced to a blind slave, Samson asks God for forgiveness and his strength back. God gives him his strength back, and Samson delivers one final, devastating blow to the Philistines.

"Samson and Delilah" is one of my favorite stories from the Bible and although DeMille changed some of the facts of the story it still remains a very entertaining classic. For the totally accurate version of the story read Judges 13-16 in the Old Testament. Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature were superb and their chemistry was electric. I hope we don't have to wait much longer before this great epic is released on a special edition dvd!
11 comment14 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 5, 2011
Considered a classic, "Samson and Delilah" is a must view (once) film. Now out of print, the copy I ordered had Chinese(?) subtitles, but they did not really get in the way. I kept wondering what was wrong with Victor Mature's face and why Hedy Lamarr talked like she just graduated from the silents?
Still Cecil B. DeMille pulled off a major film production that packed the theaters, even though the temple scene was a bit hokey and the dialogue stilted.
But not watching "Samson and Delilah" once is just like not reading a well-known classic or seeing a famous painting.
22 comments16 of 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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