Hollywood classics. Samson and Delilah is an American romantic classic produced and directed by Cecil B. Demille and released by Paramount Pictures.
The movie depicts the Biblical adventures of Samson, a strongman with vulnerability: his attraction to Philistine women who seduce him, discover his secrets then betray him to his enemies.
Staring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr, the New York City Premier accommodated 7 million movie-goers on December 21, 1949; and became the highest-grossing film in America.
DeMille hired an illustrator to paint his personal visualization of Delilah, describing her as “warm, soft, cunning, with a dangerous capacity for vengeance—-a combination of Vivian Leigh and Jean Simmons with a dash of Lana Turner.”
Adding to his dramatization, DeMille bought the rights to ‘Judge and Fool,’ a novel he felt made possible a connected drama.
The following passage is the Biblical version of Samson’s love-life told in its entirety, without DeMille’s adaptation:
When the Philistines were punishing the Nazirites, an Angel of the Lord appeared to Monaoh and his wife, who were unable to conceive. The Angel proclaimed the couple would have a son who would deliver the Nazirites from their enemy.
Requirements were set up that Monaoh’s wife would abstain from alcohol, and her promised child must never cut his hair. Samson was born and raised to these provisions.
As a young adult, he left his people and fell in love with a Philistine woman, against the will of his parents. On his way to her home, he’s attacked by a Lion but easily rips the creature apart.
This sudden strength frightens him so profoundly; he keeps it a secret, continuing on to win the Philistine woman’s hand in marriage.
On his wedding day he notices that bees have nested in the carcass of the Lion and made honey. He eats a handful, and at his wedding-feast, he offers a strange riddle to his Philistine groomsmen:
“Solve my riddle and I shall give you my finest linen and garments.”
The Philistine groomsmen become frustrated and secretly threaten his new wife to get the answer for them. At her tearful urging, Samson tells her, and she then tells the Philistines.
Before sunset on the seventh day, the groomsmen say to Samson:
“What is sweeter than honey?”
“What is stronger than a Lion?”
Samson immediately challenged:
“One of you has slept with my wife!”
Consumed in rage, he attaches torches to the tails of three hundred foxes, allowing the panicked beasts to run through the Philistine fields of grain, burning all in their wake. Then he takes refuge in a cave at the rock of Etam.
An army of Philistines go up and demand the Nazirites deliver the culprit. With his consent, Samson is tied with two new ropes and is about to be handed over, when he breaks free. Using the jawbone of an ass, he slays one thousand Philistines and “Judged” them for twenty years.
But then he falls in love with another Philistine woman, Delilah, at the Brook of Sorek. He teases Delilah, but foolishly tells her he will lose his power with the loss of his hair. Delilah calls for a servant to shave his locks, thus breaking the Nazirite oath.
God leaves Samson; the Philistines imprison him, blind him, and put him to work grinding grain. Then they assemble in celebration of sacrifice to their pagan God, Dagon, who delivered the strongman into their hands.
Samson is summoned so that thousands can witness his execution, but once inside the temple, he’s allowed to rest himself against the Temple’s pillars; he prays to God:
“Remember me, I pray, to strengthen me, I pray, only this once, Oh, God, that I may be avenged for my two eyes.”
He pushes the pillars apart and down comes the huge pagan temple on the Rulers, and thousands of Philistines in it.
“Thus Samson killed many more as he died than while he lived,” which fulfilled the Biblical prophecy.