Salome (1953) (NTSC)

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Released 6-May-2020

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1953
Running Time 102:51
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By William Dieterle
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Rita Hayworth
Stewart Granger
Charles Laughton
Judith Anderson
Basil Sydney
Cedric Hardwick
Alan Badel
Case ?
RPI ? Music George Duning


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Because the court of King Herod (Charles Laughton) and Queen Herodias (Judith Anderson) in Galilee is so wanton Queen Herodias sends her young daughter Princess Salome (Rita Hayworth) to grow up in Rome. There she falls in love with Marcellus (Rex Reason), the nephew of Emperor Tiberius (Cedric Hardwick). Marcellus makes the mistake of partitioning Tiberius to allow him to marry Salome. As Salome is not a Roman, but a barbarian, Tiberius not only refuses permission but exiles Salome back to Galilee on the ship that is carrying the new Roman governor of the province, Pontius Pilate (Basil Sydney), and the commander of his guard Claudius (Stewart Granger), who takes an immediate shine to Salome.

     In Galilee Herod and Herodias are being denounced for adultery by the prophet John the Baptist (Alan Badel) who is fermenting unrest because Herod, in marrying Herodias, had married his brother’s wife which was against the religious law. Herodias implores her husband to have John killed, but he refuses; Herod thinks that John may be the promised Messiah and he knows of a prophesy that if the Messiah is killed by a member of the house of Herod, terrible and painful retribution will be inflicted upon him.

     This is the situation when Pilate, Salome and Claudius arrive in Galilee. We learn the Claudius, sickened by the warfare and killing he has witnessed and participated in, has become a secret adherent of the new religion prophesised by John and he warns John not to preach in the city as it will be seen as sedition. As well, Claudius and Salome are falling in love. On their arrival at his palace Herod is immediately besotted with desire for his stepdaughter.

     John, of course, ignores Claudius’ warning. He continues to preach and is arrested and tried by Herod; John is imprisoned but Herod will not order his execution, despite the urging of Herodias. At first hostile to John, Salome comes also to believe in his message of peace. At the banquet celebrating Herod’s birthday Salome dances the “Dance of the Seven Veils” for her stepfather, believing that she can entice Herod to free John. But Herodias gets to Herod first and lusting for Salome he orders the death of John whose head is brought into the banquet on a platter.

     In the late 1940s and 1950s Biblical epics were popular in Hollywood, including those that depicted stories from the bible about wicked, manipulative and lustful women including Samson and Delilah (1949) or David and Bathsheba (1951). The seductive New Testament Salome seemed perfect for another epic film. Salome was very much in the public imagination with paintings, the scandalous 1891 play by Oscar Wilde, the 1905 Strauss opera (which introduced the concept of the “Dance of the Seven Veils” into public consciousness) and numerous films about her including four silent films dating back to 1908.

     This 1953 Technicolor version of Salome was directed by William Dieterle. He had received an Oscar nomination for The Life of Emile Zola (1937) but before that had had a long career directing films in his native Germany, his first in 1923 with a young Marlene Dietrich, before coming to Hollywood. Another notable film he directed was The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) with Charles Laughton. The Technicolor presentation of Salome is impressive but the undoubted star is the gorgeous Rita Hayworth again wearing gowns by Jean Louis; while best remembered for the clinging black strapless gown Louis designed in Gilda (1946), Rita’s costumes in the Technicolor Salome are stunning, none more so than the blue, yellow, red and mauve veils and skirts in the Dance of the Seven Veils segment. This is about as seductive as a strip tease could get in mainstream Hollywood of 1953! However, unlike many of the earlier depictions of Salome as a manipulative and wanton woman, Hayworth’s Salome is more innocent, the death of John the Baptist manipulated by her mother Herodias who is really the villain of the film. Other cast in Salome are not as effective; Charles Laughton, an actor who is larger than life, had won an Oscar in 1933 for The Private Life of Henry VIII while his other memorable performances include in Mutiny of the Bounty (1935) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957) but here he seems to be mostly sleepwalking while Stewart Granger is a rather wooden hero.

     It is not only the costumes that look spectacular in Technicolor. Salome was filmed partly in Israel by cinematographer Charles Lang. His career in Hollywood stretched almost 5 decades from 1923 to 1973 during which he was nominated 18 times for Oscars, including for films as diverse as Some Like it Hot (1959) and Butterflies Are Free (1972), but he only won once, way back in 1932 for A Farewell to Arms. In Salome the exterior landscapes and the palaces, the marching soldiers and colourful crowds, are all beautifully rendered.

     Salome may be a toned down version of the biblical wicked princess but it is an entertaining film with a swirl of spectacular colours, never more so than in the Dance of the Seven Veils, and Rita Hayworth looking as gorgeous as ever.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Salome is presented in Technicolor in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC and is not16x9 enhanced.

     These old Technicolor movies shot on film still look special. The colours are deep and rich; chiffons in red, yellow, blue and mauve shimmer, Roman burnished breastplates sparkle and red cloaks float, jewels and gauze twinkle. Exterior locations with their sparse vegetation and rocky hillsides have a nice depth, interiors within Herod’s palace have a good range of colours and textures. Detail is always strong, whether in exteriors of marching soldiers or the close-ups of Rita’s stunning face. Skin tones can be somewhat lush, blacks are solid, shadow detail very good (the night scenes were shot day for night). There was some motion blur but I did not see any artefacts other than a few tiny spots.

     English subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

     The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.

     The dialogue is easy to hear. The sounds of marching feet, horses’ hooves or the voices of the crowds in the market, during sermons or at Herod’s party had a pleasant resonance. The score by George Duning (Oscar nominated for From Here to Eternity (1953)) was suitably epic and Biblical! .

     There was no hiss or crackle.

    Lip synchronisation is generally fine with an occasional lapse.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (3:08)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Salome is available in Region 1 as a stand-alone DVD without extras and as part of a DVD collection of the films of Rita Hayworth, which has only the same theatrical trailer as this release. This release here of the film is as part of The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection which collection itself forms part of The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection. See the summary section below.

Summary

     Salome as a character continues to fascinate; there have been at least another 8 films featuring her that followed this 1953 version. By 1953 Rita’s star at Columbia was fading due to their next rising female star Kim Novak. Nevertheless, you would not know it from Salome where Rita is as beautiful and beguiling on camera as ever. She still dances, and moves, wonderfully and her performance and the Technicolor presentation of Salome result in a film that is entertaining and well worth watching.

     The Technicolor presentation is excellent, the audio the original mono. A trailer is the only extra.

     Salome is included in the 12 disc / 12 film set The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection. The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection itself comprises the The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection and the The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection Two. Both of these individual Collection packs have been released previously.

     The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection was supplied for review by ViaVision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, June 29, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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