Sodom and Gomorrah (1962)

Genres - Epic  |   Sub-Genres - Religious Epic  |   Run Time - 154 min.  |   Countries - France , Italy , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Director Robert Aldrich's approach to this 1963 motion picture is obvious from the start: Forget subtlety. Make everything big and beautiful and brutal. So he gives viewers sumptuous palaces, dancing girls, death by torture, and war. Based on accounts in the Book of Genesis, the production follows the fortunes of Lot (Stewart Granger), a nephew of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, as he settles his people in a Dead Sea valley near the end of the 21st Century, B.C., to grow crops and graze animals. Sodom and Gomorrah's Queen Bera (Anouk Aimée) grants him the valley land after Lot agrees to defend the sin cities against expected Helamite attacks. The sets, costumes, and action scenes are more Hollywood than history--a veritable glitzkrieg of images--and modern viewers may balk at the chintzy special effects in the engagement between mounted Helamite warriors and stone-throwing Hebrew laborers who isolate the Helamites with a curtain of fire and then unleash a wall of water from a breached dam. The quality of the acting ranges from masterly to moronic. Granger, Aimée, and Stanley Baker as Astaroth (the queen's brother and rival for power) all perform capably and sometimes excellently. As Lot's wife Ildith, Pier Angeli uses her Italian accent to sound exotic and ancient, to good effect, and she looks inviting as a slinky temptress and a pillar of salt. The rest of the cast resembles tryout day for a school play.