on 21 June 2001
Another large-scale film rendition from the biblical epic genre! Typical "Hollywood style" of finding "love story" themes from biblical narratives, which always creates an impact! For this film, MGM first employed Tyrone Power for the part of Solomon but during initial filming Tyrone Power died and amazing epic actor Yul Brynner (Rameses in TEN COMMANDMENTS) replaced him. The "battle scenes" were so magnificently filmed in cinemascope that the film authorities kept Power in particular scenes where he could not be recognized in spite of the fact that Brynner took the lead role. The great epic actor Finlay Currie (who played Balthasar in Ben Hur) issues a magnificent portrayal of King David while David Farrar does a good job with playing Pharaoh, king of Egypt. The same problems of human nature where brother fights against brother is clearly seen in the character of Solomon's brother Adonijah stunningly played by British actor George Sanders. This particular UK video release of this classic is a "must see" for it captures both the original cinematic technique of the use of camera 70 and stereophonic sound. The UK PAL version is better than the NTSC.
on 14 December 2007
First off, this was not made by MGM (it's a United Artists film) and Tyrone Power cannot be scene in the battle
sequences. He is only visible in one shot of the trailer. It is interesting to speculate on what the film would
have been like with Power but, the truth is, in existing photos from the first version he looks too old for the part. Yul Brynner was an excellent choice to replace him and does a wonderful job in the role. Gina Lollobrigida is unbelievably beautiful as Sheba and wears some of the most revealing costumes in a film up to that time. This is a large scale and
hugely entertaining motion picture. The UK DVD is by far the best transfer I have ever seen of SOLOMON AND
SHEBA and well worth adding to your collection.
on 14 December 2011
Solomon and Sheba is one of those films to which I have a love and hate relationship with. Let me start with the negatives first.
First of all the film is too small in scale for the story. For example when it comes to the battles and the set locations it feels quite low budget and when compared with a similar Biblical Sword and Sandal film such as The Ten Commandments or Ben Hur, Solomon and Sheba just misses the mark in this regards.
Also the acting is a little bit Hammy and script feels a little bit rushed. The Queen of Sheba played by Gina Lollobrigida was picked more for her looks than any acting ability in my opinion.
The positives in this film however are; Yul Brynner is a consistently good actor and he handles the clunky script in a dignified way and is believable as wise King Solomon. Using veteran English actor George Sanders as Solomon's older scheming Brother Adonijah was a good casting decision.
The other positive is that despite the script being dreadful at times it does quote the Bible numerous times and they consistently use God's name Jehovah in the film which is very good the only other film I know that does this is Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
In short Solomon and Sheba isn't perfect but it is a watchable film and anyone with an interest in the Bible or in a good Sword and Sandal film should enjoy this film.
I must say that this film was a very pleasant surprise. It was released in 1959 when biblical epics were at their zenith. Starring Yul Brynner, Gina Lollobrigida, George Sanders, and Marisa Pavan, this film is not lacking in star power. It is a lush, compelling story.
The film details the rivalry between Solomon (Yul Brynner) and his older brother, Adonijah (George Sands), the warrior. It was a rivalry that grew out of the fact that Adonijah was passed over for succession to their father David's throne upon his death. It was Solomon who was chosen to rule Israel. This was to cause a rift in their relationship that would be irreparable.
The film also details the love affair between the beautiful Queen of Sheba (Gina Lollobrigida) and Solomon, wise in all things except love. It shows how an affair that started out as a political maneuver on the part of the Queen of Sheba would turn into a selfless, passionate love of the heart. It was a love that would almost rend a nation asunder.
Yul Brenner, as the viewer has probably never seen him (with a head of hair), is excellent as the idealistic and tolerant ruler. Gina Lollobrigida turned out to be a much better actress than I had imagined. She is sensational as the beautiful, exotic, voluptuous Queen of Sheba. She also has a figure that must have been the envy of every woman at one time. It is a perfect hourglass figure that shows off her striking and seductive costumes to perfection.
George Sands is compelling as the envious Adonijah, who sought to take what was not his by any means, fair or foul. His desire for the throne would compromise the very existence of Israel and lead to a climactic finale. Moreover, his hatred for the Queen of Sheba was as great as that of his hatred for his brother. This wellspring of emotion was to have great repercussions for all.
Despite a pagan orgy scene that is so over the top as to be laughable, this is a spectacular biblical epic that will keep the viewer riveted to the screen.
Solomon and Sheba is directed by King Vidor and collectively written by Anthony Veiller, Paul Dudley, George Bruce and Crane Wilbur. It stars Yul Brynner, Gina Lollobrigida, Marisa Pavan, George Sanders, David Farrar, Harry Andrews, John Crawford and Laurence Naismith. Music is by Mario Nascimbene and cinematography by Fred A. Young.
A fictionalised screenplay cribs from parts of the Bible, where the story here follows the relationship between Solomon of Israel and the Queen of Sheba, a problem because initially Sheba is in league with Israel's enemy, Egypt. All that and Solomon has to deal with his nefarious brother, Adonijah, who is a little miffed that Solomon has inherited the crown of Israel.
Famously it was the production that saw the sad death of the leading man, Tyrone Power, while Vidor was so disillusioned about the whole film he quit making feature length films. It's a very mixed bag, very much showing the good and bad sides of the big historical epics that dominated Hollywood back in the day. In part it's a grandiose melodrama, in others it's cheap looking and given to campy histrionics (the orgy operatics sequences are just awful), while the screenplay jostles with itself as to being biblical blarney or potent pontifications.
Costuming and colour photography smooths the eyes, but then the optical nerves are shredded by set design so poor a child making paper mache boulders could have done better. The cast are also in and out, Brynner is fine as Solomon (broody, brainy but troubled), as is the lovely Lollobrigida (stoic, smart and sexy), but the support slots barely convince. Sanders is badly miscast as Solomon's warrior brother Adonijah (he was 53 at the time), 10 years earlier in Samson and Delilah his villain turn worked, but not here.
Sword fighting choreography is poor, as are the miracle effects work, but conversely the big battle that crowns the story is smart in writing and in execution, where not even the model work can dim the thrill of it all. Released in the same year as Ben-Hur obviously does it no favours by comparison! But then so many other big swords and shields epics would also struggle as well. Vidor's movie is just above average in the genre pantheon, but the faults are irritable and hardly render it as a must see film for genre enthusiasts. 6/10
on 9 February 2010
Film expensive, and no Hollywood on the Tiber, but was shot in Hollywood with the outdoor scenes in Mexico. Tyrone Power was replaced, for he died during filming, and this was perhaps the greatest damage of the film, which was very successful, but seeing him, you see very well that Brinner is a last-minute replacement. The office of the actor couple disappeared, was necessary, moreover, now out of its clichés of Bellone and enough, but now also an actor complete and mature (eg with Wilder). The script is good and in the rules of its genre. the director is good, but obviously limited and private in his choice of the actor. The costumes are routine except that of Lollobrigida, truly amazing, but are of a great Italian tailor: Schubert, imposed by the friction and with reason. The scenarios are good and the fateful scene of dazzling shields is phenomenal. The coreagrafia is excellent and functional, so as to give a sensual charge unusual for the era and the genre.
Lollobrigida very good, but really! Her voice does not disappoint setting (also in English and French versions), has been preparing diligently, but without losing that amount of naturalness, which has made this character deal with security. He moves well in the important scenes, and films of this kind is not easy.
Brinner here with the wig that weakness leaves his verve, who had distinguished 10 Commandments and The King and I, sin was not his proper role, although the flicker of the eyes not missing.
Georges Sander bad and treacherous par excellence, here in a role, unisitato, including action, is good and we know it.
Solomon and Sheba is a film more famous for original star Tyrone Power's death two-thirds of the way through shooting than for anything it achieved once the cameras started rolling again with Yul Brynner in the role (having shot most of the big exteriors, there simply wasn't enough footage of Power in the key scenes with Gina Lollabrigida's Sheba to cut together into a feature).
From the few extracts that have emerged of Tyrone Power's footage this could have been a contender, but after his fatal heart attack filming the final swordfight with long-time co-star George Sanders, unpopular replacement Yul Brynner had the script rewritten to replace Power's doubting warrior king with a more confident and less interesting typical movie hero. There's a huge element of half-heartedness to much of the film that doesn't help matters, much of it no doubt due to reshooting so much of the film again, but it's doubtful this would ever have been more than big-budget hokum. The result is one of those films like Blood Alley (which saw Robert Mitchum controversially replaced by John Wayne days into filming), where the story of what happened behind the screen is much more interesting than the one on it.
Unlike the atrocious Taiwanese DVD, the UK PAL DVD boasts a good 2.35:1 widescreen transfer and includes the original theatrical trailer, which does offer a brief glimpse of Power swinging a sword from his chariot in a battle scene, though it would have been nice to see some more of the surviving Power footage as well.
on 5 March 2013
Great film of the fifty;s ! The film is about the king and queen, showing the kings weeknesses to the beautiful queen, that lures him into her net. She finally see Gods truth, bann her own demi gods and go home to her country, with Salomos son in her bosom, a good and entertaining film, made in the the 1950s together in a series of other great Bible film, e.g the fantasic film Ben Hur, a film that would recommend to all people in the world.
on 27 October 2013
I choose this rating because I have seen it before at my grandmothers house when I was small. I think that nowadays these type of films are not shown on TV nowadays it is a shame. There was nothing that I disliked about the film I watched it a couple days ago. I will recommend this film to a relative.
on 27 July 2015
Enjoyable. Lola was a little amateurish but her looks carried her through. Good enough performance from Yul, though speech stilted as usual. The sets were just right not, overdone. Unlikely to watch again. M.J.C.