Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward
DAVID AND BATHSHEBA (1951). Director: Henry King.

King David (Gregory Peck) of Bethlehem is married to Michal (Jayne Meadows) but spots Bathsheba (Susan Hayward) taking a shower on a rooftop across the way. As Bathsheba hoped, David spies her and asks her over, where the two reveal an immediate attraction to one another. But what to do about Uriah, the Hittite (Kieron Moore), a soldier who happens to be married to Bathsheba? It seems David will do just about anything to keep his lover from being stoned to death as an adulteress ... Gregory Peck is not bad as David, but this is an actor who has always had trouble summoning up any kind of passion, even in his scenes with Hayward; he projects strength and nobility but little else. Hayward is more effective as Bathsheba, as is Moore [Satellite in the Sky] as the unwitting Uriah. Meadows [ Enchantment] is oddly cast but okay enough as the jealous, cast-off wife. Raymond Massey [Possessed] is fine as the pious prophet, Nathan, and young Gilbert Barnett makes an impression as David's sinister son, Absolom. James Robertson Justice looks and acts as if he wandered into the movie by mistake; George Zucco makes a better impression as an Egyptian messenger from Pharaoh. The best scene in David and Bathsheba is a flashback which details the well-staged battle between a young David and the hulking Goliath. The contributions of Leon Shamroy (cinematography) and Alfred Newman (score) are also of note. Peck first refers to his lover as Bathsheba than starts calling her Bathsheba; the other characters can't seem to make up their minds as to which pronunciation is correct!

Verdict: A biblical soap opera. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

I enjoy this one more than you do, Bill, I'm a sucker for Bible epics! I love the sweep, the majesty, the Technicolor--as you note, Shamroy was one of the masters. And Gregory Peck in a toga is enough to brighten my whole outlook on life!

William said...

Ha, ha -- he certainly was a decorative fellow!