Well, Cecil, you did it again.
Actually, Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah came years before his epic film The Ten Commandments. Not only was this earlier Bible-based production the highest-grossing movie of the year, but at the time of its release it was the third highest-grossing film ever made (which is saying a lot since the world already had sophisticated classics such as The Boogie Man Will Get You and Pop Goes the Easel.)
Samson and Delilah follows the Bible story surprisingly well (see Judges 13:24-16:31), though it definitely takes a few liberties filling in the gaps with a few fictional scenes and characters. Here are a few of the big things in the movie we can correct right now:
- Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that Samson’s wife was sisters with Delilah.
- Samson and the future king Saul never robbed Philistines together — in fact, it’s highly unlikely they even knew each other.
- Samson probably didn’t have an almost-girlfriend named Miriam (though interestingly, the actress playing Miriam later plays a real Biblical Miriam, sister of Moses, in The Ten Commandments).
There are more, but for the record I always appreciate seeing different adaptations of scriptural stories like this one because it brings me a new perspective that helps me uncover new messages and meanings behind stories I’ve already heard. Also with this movie, I get to hear 46 new ways to pronounce “Philistine.”
The film stars Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature. (Victor would later go on to play a major role in a classic movie called The Robe). It also has George Sanders (whom you’ll recognize from All About Eve — or, for you rabid Disney fans — as the voice of Shere Khan in Jungle Book.)
You’ll also notice a very young Russ Tamblyn, better known as Gideon from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and of course Angela Lansbury, who, no matter how hard I try to accept her as the voluptuous blonde in these old movies, will always be Mrs. Potts to me.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: I’ve often been compared to Samson, what with my brute-like strength and uncanny knack for growing hair. I also keep several donkey jawbones under my bed in case of emergencies.
Here was a man of great power, both through his physical strength and political influence as a judge in Israel. He was also a Nazarite, and as such was expected to be a symbol of purity and devotion to God.
But as we witness in this film, Samson eventually “lost sight” of the true Source of his strength, consciously trading the spiritual joys of eternity for the bodily pleasures of a fleeting moment.
And if it can happen to Samson — the symbol of strength in every aspect of life — it can happen to any of us.
No matter how strong we think we are, it is always wiser to avoid temptation than resist it. We should never casually allow ourselves or our children to enter a virtual or physical situation that we know will be riddled with salacious land mines.
The difference between the salvation of Joseph and the damnation of David began with the choice to either get out or look in. And as Delilah proved, there are more than enough people willing to make a profit off of our poor choices.
Someone reading this may be struggling right now with a situation similar to Samson’s. The question is, do you have the strength to make the right choice?
“For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.” — Doctrine & Covenants 3:4