Samson and Delilah (1949)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Epic visuals and storytelling

Long and you know how it is going to end

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Samson and Delilah

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama/Romance/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  December 21, 1949 (Premiere)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


I’m perfectly trustworthy…

Danite Hebrew Samson (Victor Mature) finds himself in love with a Philistine named Semadar (Angela Lansbury).  When her younger sister Delilah (Hedy Lamarr) feels scorned by Samson, she forces a betrayal and Samson is forced to evade Philistine forces.  Delilah vows to destroy Samson for what he did to her and her family and finds herself falling in and out of love with him as she schemes against him with her husband the Saran of Gaza (George Sanders).  As Samson’s fame and strength grows, Delilah seeks out the source of his power…and how she can destroy him!


Hey kid, you might have a future…

Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, Samson and Delilah is a biblical epic adapting the story of Samson which appears in the Book of Judges, chapters 13-16.  The movie was a box office and critical success.  It won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Sect Decoration—Color and Best Costume Design—Color with nominations for Best Cinematography—Color, Best Music—Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Best Effects, Special Effects.

Samson was always kind of interesting to me in that he was essentially a superhero (there actually is a Doc Samson which is his namesake in Marvel Comics).  He was bestowed upon him magical powers by God and his Kryptonite is his hair which can make or break him.  Combine the superhero aspect of the story with Cecil B. DeMille’s grand style, and Samson and Delilah is still a winner.


Whoa…what a night. Oh come on…Seriously, lady?

The story is tweaked for the movie and streamlined.  Characters like Semadar are added to the story to give the story more direction and purpose.  The Bible also doesn’t go much into Delilah’s motives and these are fleshed out in the film.  It is a smart way to make a simple short story a more dramatic piece.

The cast was full of changes.  Burt Lancaster was considered but deemed too old and legend has it that Billy Graham was also in the running (but he chose to not “go Hollywood”).  Victor Mature is fine as Samson, but it isn’t a very meaty role.  For Delilah, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, and Jean Simmons were looked at but the role ended up with Hedy Lamarr who plays a great seducer.  The movie also cast a young Angela Lansbury (who still seems far more mature than her years) as the older sister of Delilah despite being ten years younger than Lamarr.


This will teach the Philistines to learn about weigh bearing columns!!!

The movie is epic.  Whenever you watch one of these older films, you have to consider what the filmmakers were working with and that just makes them even better.  Sure, you can see that it is an obvious set in multiple places, but the size and scale of some of these sets are incredible.  If this had been done with computers, it probably wouldn’t have the lasting power.  Plus, modern HD transfers make the colors and visuals pop.

Samson and Delilah is a classic, but it is overshadowed by DeMille’s The Ten Commandments which is often held up as the definitive Bible epic.  Still, if you’ve watched The Ten Commandments into the ground and want to see another story of the Bible with staying power, check out Samson and Delilah.  I bet you can’t guess how it ends…

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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