Solomon and Sheba (1959)
Blu-ray Company: Twilight Time
Starring: Yul Brynner, Gina Lollobrigidia, George Sanders,
Plot: : The wise leader and singer of songs, Solomon, finds his world turned upside down with the appearance of the wily temptress Sheba. A passionate and powerful bible epic.
My Review and Thoughts:
Twilight Time did it again, digging deep into the classic recesses of cinema. It shocks me in knowing for some reason this film has been overlooked or never given the reality that it deserves. This is one of those movies of the past, the Biblical epic style movies, that ran, rampant, with the like's of The Bible, Ten Commandments, King of Kings, The Greatest Story Ever Told and this one, Solomon and Sheba, among others. Sadly, this film had some trouble getting finished. Among It's brilliance, it has wonderful amazing sets and costumes, but most of all, the acting by two amazing veterans and icons of cinema, Yul Brynner and Gina Lollobrigida.
This film has never really got the respect that it deserves and the reviews and comments on it have been, unfavorable, and that is a true shame. I feel this film goes right along with all those other classic bible epics. Directed by the great and amazing King Vidor, who was responsible for some of the greatest films of all time. He was a director that transcended silent films. Starting his career in 1913 with silent films and then, went on to directing talkies, all the way up to 1980. Solomon of Sheba is his last feature film work. He has mastered the cinema world with, 1925’s Silent masterpiece, The Big Parade. Not only The Big Parade as a masterpiece of silent cinema, but also the silent 1928’s The Crowd. Two movies that should be seen and respected. He actually directed one of my favorite films of all time, the one and only 1949’s The Fountain Head, starring my all-time favorite actor, who comes in at number 1 on my list of best actors in history, Gary Cooper. King Vidor had away with making grand scale films and making them look real, and epic. Something people might not know about King Vidor, is that he was one of 4 directors, that worked on the classic 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. He is un-credited, but directed the Kansas scenes in the film.
I have often felt King Vidor has never been given the respect that he deserved. He should be one of those house hold names as an important director. He should go up there with Cecil B. Demille and Victor Fleming. Although sadly, you say those names in today’s society, they look at you as if, “who are they,” and then I turn to them and say, “that’s why, you’re not a real movie buff.”
Vidor in his life time was nominated for, 5 Best Director awards, and that’s another reason why, I always have issue with not hearing his name when great directors are talked about. All one has to look at is his films, and see, why he is a pivotal director of the cinema world. Besides his masterpiece of, The Big Parade, you have his other masterpiece, The Crowd, which is one of the greatest silent films ever done. I think, that is what makes him stand out. He directed many different styles of film, from war, comedy, epic, from silent to talking. He gave his passion and the love of his art form to film. He was a pioneer of cinema in that he directed a film in 1929 with an all African American cast, which was unheard of. Hallelujah is a film that has been preserved and accepted into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being a pivotal piece of cinema that is historical.
Solomon and Sheba is an epic love story of a grand scale, in telling a bible story. Now sadly as I have mentioned, the movie has had its problems. It's main problem being what happened on set and during the filming. You see the main part was originally played by, the one and only master of film, actor, Tyrone Power. Power after filming a sword fight with his co-star, George Sanders, which might I add, another masterpiece performer. Powers had some pain in his left arm and abdomen. He was rushed to the hospital, but sadly, and unfortunately died of a heart attack. So the film was basically stopped and destroyed because most everything had been filmed accept the romance type love moments and close ups. So after much debate on what to do, one debate being, they could simply stop production, but they decided to move forward, and hired one of Powers best friends, Yul Brynner. Now today it would be a little easier to finish a film with a dead actor, with CGI and special effects computer animation for certain shots, like they did with The Crow or Fast and the Furious 7. Well as you know, that stuff didn’t exist back then, so what they did was keep all the battle shots, which didn’t show a close up of the actor and then added Brynner for all the close ups throughout the film. Basically recasting all of Powers close up shots, but keeping all the battle shots and far away shots. So you have two actors really playing the same part. I suppose most of the reviews of negativity toward it, can be noticed or picked up on from the director himself King Vidor. He did not like the end result with Brynner, and was out spoken on that reality. So you have a death during filming, a replacement actor, three production companies calling the shots and a director who doesn’t like his own film, and so you can see why this film has been lost, overshadowed or picked on.
The critics themselves where mixed with the film. Some praised it for the huge production shots, and others ripped it a part. But in the end, I feel, you have to look at everything that went into creating and finishing this film. I think it would be an injustice to not honor the films finish, because of Powers death. The movie itself was a huge box office hit, which shocks me all the more, in that this film has never been given the push it deserves, but thankfully Twilight Time Blu-ray has given this film, a new beautiful outlet on Blu-ray.
This film has never looked so beautiful. Twilight Time did a wonderful restoration and transfer of this film. Dare I say, they lovingly created a perfect transfer of a film that needs to be seen on blu-ray?
Now reviewing this one, one cannot, not mention, one of the scenes in the film that caused the eyes to widen, and the people to talk, and that was the orgy scene. No nudity, but very sensual and suggestive. This was shocking for its time and was done in a unique and perfect way to get away with it. Lollobrigida was beautiful and sexually extreme for the time period, and how this got past, and shown, shocks me. The scene is just awesome and dynamic, and it was captured perfectly, with all eyes on the moment.
Twilight Time aced this film and gave it a new beautiful home that it deserved in one of their Limited Edition 3,000 Unit production Blu-ray's. In my viewpoint a must own.
This has never looked so good. The vibrant colors and awesome film-making add to the audio and video of this film. Twilight Time has done this film justice. Unbelievable beauty in the transfer. So crisp, clean and just plain eye opening. A fresh look to this old film. The sound is equally the same. It’s total ear candy to the watcher. I have no issue in any of the sound or video.
I am not going to sit here and pick apart small little things, such as moments with a few grain or off color, the point is, this is the first time on Blu-ray, and therefore it is a wonderful example of a transfer. Looks amazing compared to, VHS OR DVD. This Blu-ray gave it a new outlet, and that is why it works. To me simply put, its beautiful in vibrant colors and sound.
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.35:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Music: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
You get the very important and wonderful isolated music. The music was created and flawlessly executed by music master Mario Nascimbene. He was one of the greatest soundtrack composers to ever grace Hollywood. One only has to look at his vast career and his ultimate excellence in sound. He, in his wonderful career gave music to over 150 movies, which is unbelievable in the reality of this composer and Conductor. Solomon and Sheba is no different than all his other masterpieces of ear listening, perfection. His music is the style that grabs you and sends you into the movie, and expresses the emotions, or reality taking place on screen. Simply put, his music comes to life as a living being.
What makes him so unique in my viewpoint is the many styles of films he was a part of. From high class, big budget studio wonders, all the way to lower forms of cinema. He mastered his music with a vast genera of films. From the wonderment of, 1957’s That Night, to 1958’s The Vikings, 1959’s Violent Summer, all the way to Hammer Films, One Million Years B.C., to the 1970 adventure fantasy, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. These few that I have mentioned, just showcases you his many adventures in music. He is one of the best Italian film composers and Orchestrator's of music to ever live. He, like the master Ennio Morricone, should always be honored and remembered. Twilight Time did a wonderful job in honoring this movie and his music.
Also you get the wonderful booklet insert as always by film historian Julie Kirgo, which I always look forward to.
Isolated Score Track is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.
Original Theatrical Trailer #1
Original Theatrical Trailer #2
MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer
A forgotten and often underrated Bible epic film of extraordinary acting, music and production. The overall film of sets, costumes and battles, is something to behold, and Twilight Time, gifted us movie lovers with a new, fresh, beautiful outlook to this film.
A wonderful Blu-ray of video and sound quality. An old-school experience of a unique film, in Bible epics. Highly recommend for fans who understand and enjoy classic films of the epic nature.
Make sure you head over to www.screenarchives.com to buy all the wonderful Twilight Time Blu-rays. The main page that gives you these beautiful releases on top quality Special Editions.
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