Friday, December 12, 2008

King Vidor's "Solomon and Sheba" (1959)

I like Solomon and Sheba more than anybody else I know, including Vidor himself. For more, see below...




On his website, Tag Gallagher has a bio-critical filmography of King Vidor. Should be a huge pleasure to read for any Vidor fan. I stole the following from there. It is Vidor talking about the making of Solomon and Sheba:
"I did half of it—two months—with Tyrone Power. More than once he told me: ‘This is the best part I’ve ever had, the best picture I’ve ever been in,’ and when we ran the rushes we had to agree: he was able to convey the character’s vacillation between sex and religion, sex and state obligation, so well that we thought we were going to have a simply marvellous movie. Then Power died and was replaced by Yul Brynner, who was so cautious and inhibited at stepping into the part in those circumstances that Solomon and Sheba somehow turned into an unimportant, indifferent sort of picture.…We also had weather prob­lems. I’d started shooting in September, but it was December by the time we came to re-shoot it and we could no longer go to the places I’d originally used, so we constantly had to cheat in matters of climate and landscape. Yul Brynner wanted to skip over the interesting com­plexity, he didn’t want to hear about it. It was impossible to talk with him. Numerous scenes like the love scene in the wheeping willows thus became quickly ridiculous.…

“Despite everything, the film was finished in less than a month, as Yul Brynner’s contract demanded, and I could let go of my emotions. I had kept what had happened to me emotionally hidden until then and then suddenly, walking to my office, the floodgates broke. I went back home and closed the door. I sat down and began to cry.”

If he knew what I felt watching it...

3 comments:

Trish said...

I agree with you. Vidor can't see the forest for the trees. Brynner is a much better actor than Power, and he is excellent in this film. He makes it rise above high camp.

Yoel Meranda said...

Thanks Trish!

You're the only person who agrees with me, as far as I know. It's been a long time since I've seen it but I thought its use of space acquired expanding meanings as the movie progressed.

The "character's vacillations", as Vidor puts it, is wonderfully expressed in the film, and for me, love between two people who own their own kingdoms seems to be a great way to approach any relationship. I'm sure this is not the only movie that deals with the subject but I don't know of any who touches such heights in reflecting overarching truths and emotions.

I also thought there was nothing wrong with Brynner, though I do see why Vidor wasn't so happy...

Neil Bahadur said...

Solomon and Sheba is amazing! Probably my second favorite Vidor after Hallelujah. There's something kind of radical, I think, about the way Vidor uses space in a historical setting. And that orgy scene is beyond incredible!