Hollywood and the Bible

BearManor Media. Apr. 2022. 222p. ISBN 9781629339061. pap. $25. FILM
Often dismissed as “bathrobe” movies, the hugely popular Bible movies of the 1940s–’60s are rarely given serious treatment. Smith (American International Pictures: The Golden Years) has written extensively on movies before and brings good humor and a historical perspective to this overlooked genre. Smith analyzes 19 biblical movies, like Hedy Lamarr vehicle Samson and Delilah (1949); for each, he provides commentary and background on the film’s production, actors, and public reception. Later on, a chapter looks particularly at films adapted from novels that are themselves based on Bible stories, such as The Robe, a 1953 film that draws on Lloyd C. Douglas’s 1942 novel of the same title, about the crucifixion of Christ. Some of the films lend themselves to more analysis because they had more impact on the culture and movie history. But most readers will discover intriguing details about little-discussed films. The book is illustrated with film stills that add interest and have a camp quality about them. A similar recent book is 100 Bible Films by Matthew Page, which covers a longer time period and more movies but with briefer entries.
VERDICT Smith’s book will appeal to film fans and aficionados because of its light-hearted tone and human-interest content. Recommended.
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