Dangerous Dan

Adventures in the land of Dan — like TEN COMMANMENTS, SAMSON AND DELILAH begins with some blisteringly bright, lurid images, and of course immediately gives up that promising aesthetic to show people standing around in Bronson Canyon or wherever.

Interesting that, as noted by Esther Williams, Victor Mature suffered from, or enjoyed, pica, the urge to eat things you’re not supposed to eat. The cardboard his shirt came back from the laundry wrapped around, anything. I wish he’d brought that into his portrayal of the biblical muscleman. The true source of his strength!

Somebody else wrestles the lion from HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK, while the Big Victor wrestles a taxidermy display, and C.B. DeMille optimistically and haphazardly splices the two sets of shots together. Obviously, one would think, the idea should be to shoot your stunt double sequence first, then cut it down to the best bits and film your star in a series of angles designed to fit with those highlights. Extremely obviously, that’s not what Cecil has done. Midway through he runs out of stuffed lion cut-ins and just jumpcuts the real lion fight all over the place. DeMille invented the nouvelle vague.

Checking Wikipedia I was shocked — shocked! — at how unfaithful all this is to the Book of Judges. Fiona loves this film because S & D’s relationship is “so fucked up.” Which is true. And because Delilah is an unusually smart and active female antagonist/protagonist. She can make things happen alright. If she could only decide what it is she wants to happen. Maybe Hedy Lamarr’s best role/perf, making her possibly the only actor ever to give their best perf in a DeMille picturization.

Groucho Marx, of course, gave this the perfect one-line review.

SAMSON AND DELILAH stars Tondelayo; the Big Victor; Addison DeWitt; Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin; Pentaur; Miriam; Mrs. Hardy; Tom Thumb; Marcus Superbus; Magic Mirror (voice, uncredited); Joe Dakota (uncredited); Mug (uncredited); Jake the Rake (uncredited); Pontius Pilate – Governor; Franz Liszt; Moose Malloy; Superman; Captain Marvel; General Yen; Gordon Cole; Pendola Molloy; Obongo – Pygmy (uncredited); Knife-Throwing Dwarf (uncredited); and Fearless Fagan.

11 Responses to “Dangerous Dan”

  1. Another cool thing about Delilah is she got 1100 silver pieces for handing over Samson. Judas was a chump!

  2. Wow, you could get more than thirty-six Jesuses for that! I don’t know what you could do with thirty-six Jesuses but Delilah probably has some ideas.

  3. Mike Clelland Says:

    you referenced Groucho’s review, so I googled it. Excerpt below.

    According to his 1959 autobiography “Groucho and Me”, Groucho Marx was invited to a special screening of this movie and a Paramount Pictures executive asked him if he liked it. Groucho replied, “Well, there’s just one glaring fault. No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s bust is larger than the leading lady’s!”

  4. I think we all know Groucho didn’t say “bust.”

  5. Yeah, I’ve always heard it as “tits.”

    The other great one-line De Mille review was Billy Wilder’s. Having just seen The Greatest Show on Earth, he was at a loss to find something positive to say to its director, so he said, “Cecil, you have made The Greatest Show on Earth.”

  6. Remember this one from TV long ago. What stuck in my mind:
    — They figured out how to have the jawbone of an ass handy.
    — The moment where Delilah figures out Samson’s blind. She’s posed like a Jane Russell poster — “How about THESE, big boy?” — and her horror first plays as disbelief the sex appeal isn’t working.
    — If memory serves, the future King David is there as a kid with a sling. In a modern movie, he’d be evidence a sequel was already in the works. A sequel in which a ghostly Victor Mature tells young David to use God to aim his stone. The Scripture Cinematic Universe!

    Jerry Lewis had a quasi-gag in “The Errand Boy”. He sees what seems to be a framed life-sized display of Samson between two pillars. A strap on Samson’s sandal is loose. Jerry tugs the strap and Samson falls forward, not a dummy but an unconscious man, followed by the pillars collapsing and blocks of stone falling from within the frame — there was an unseen edifice that Samson was holding up. Jerry looks around anxiously and hurries away. What might have been a nifty tease for a murder mystery is just left there, a body on the floor.

    On a TV show Lewis was Samson himself, sweaty and dirty. He takes his place between the two pillars, throws his arms out, and the pillars are inches too far apart for his big moment. It played a little longer, but there was nowhere worth going after that.

  7. Oh, that sounds great!

    Young Russ Tamblyn is the David-in-waiting. Not too late for that sequel!

  8. chris schneider Says:

    I’ll always love George Sanders’ metallic hat, which continues to remind me of the sort of ashtrays one found in theater lobbies.

  9. All the bad guys have them, and they get smashed in with the jaw bone so that they burst open with sort of metal petals… I liked that bit.

  10. My favourite bit is when Delilah throws herself at Samson after he’s just wrestled the lion, crying “Oh Samson! Samson! You killed him with your hands!” And Samson says “Hey, one cat at a time!”

  11. One feels somebody had fun writing this film.

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