Sunday, May 26, 2013

Photo of the Day

Anthony Steffen and Stanley Baker wait for someone to appear in jail cell below in SODOM & GOMORRAH

There's almost an identical scene (or I should say shot) in SPARTACUS with Peter Ustinov looking down at Spartacus and Varinia who are about to make love. The difference here is...well...we almost get a great view of what Anthony Steffen is made off (thank god they didn't do this with Ustinov!). I'm thinking director Robert Aldrich tried to be shocking (for that period) as every time I see this shot it stands out, for better or for worse.

That film was, like the mythical twin cities themselves, doomed from the start. For me the end product is disappointingly not very Gomorrah-like. I don't find it shocking in any way whatsoever. In fact, it's at times more corny than anything else. But I'm sure Aldrich, with his kinky tendencies (see THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE...), wanted to go further but in 1962 there was so much one could show before being censored.

And here's the thing, the audience for this BIBLICAL film were Christians or Catholics, not necessarily the type to see some tawdry 2 hour long film. It basically was in a lose-lose situation which is why the $7 million film wasn't a hit (except in the UK). Critics savaged it (tacky is the word they used to describe it) and even composer Miklos Rozsa hated it. Part of the criticism was probably in part due to the fact that this was a Franco-Italian production via Titanus studios. The film is a real who's who of PEPLUM stars.

Now if Cecil B deMille had directed this it would have been equal parts staggering pseudo religious mumbo jumbo AND a definitive orgiastic masterpiece with the sinners getting their spectacular comeuppance. deMille took his orgies and sinners seriously.


orsh549 said...

The whole problem with this movie which is typical of the movie industry is that it didn't follow the Old Testament telling of Lot and his family in Sodom. When I was growing up I did not see this movie because of the rating that it was given by the Catholic Church which had a movie rating system (the name evades me), but the rating was equal to an R and not all Catholics went to see it.

Scott said...

I believe you're thinking of the Legion of Decency, Church-approved lay censors who bestowed letter grades upon films in the days before the MPAA ratings. A "C" for "Condemned" was considered the kiss of death for any picture playing in a predominantly Catholic city (or so the LoD would have the public believe, although I suspect having a bunch of bluenoses certify a film as indecent only increased its box office appeal).

orsh549 said...

There is a very good book which you can read on line about The Legion of Decency called Hollywood Censored. Ratings were changed A,B,C to A-1 to A-IV in late 60's and you will be surprised by the Big Hollywood Producers who adhered to it. Things were quite different in Europe where they were a more should I say "Open-Minded Society". Since I spent enough time over there not much was censored. Thanks for the info Scott.