Samson and Delilah. David and Bathsheba. The persecutions of the early Christians.
Sure, these tales had their origins in the Bible. But many times over the years they've been appropriated by Hollywood, which appreciates a good story and splendiferous production values. (We're reminded of Esquire movie critic Dwight MacDonald, who opined that the only excuse for a Biblical epic is a good orgy).
Bible movies are featured in the film series Tinseltown Testament on Mondays in July, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The series is presented In conjunction with the Library's new exhibit Manifest Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible, on display July 11 through August 10 at the Central Library.
Admission is free. The schedule:
The Nativity Story (2006) on July 2
Catherine Hardwicke (the first Twilight movie) directs this film about events leading up to Christ's birth. Noted for its historical accuracy, the film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes (an Oscar nominee for Whale Rider) as Mary. Rated PG. 101 minutes
Samson and Delilah (1949) on July 9
Cecile B. DeMille was Hollywood's master of the Biblical epic. Here he cast muscleman Victor Mature as Samson and beautiful Hedy Lamarr as the seductive Delilah. Needless to say, they bring the house down. With George Sanders, Angela Lansbury. Unrated. 131 minutes
Prince of Egypt (1998) on July 16
The story of Moses, handled in blockbuster fashion in DeMille's The Ten Commandments, gets the animation treatment in this remarkably effective effort from Steven Spielberg's SKG studio. The voice talent runs deep: Val Kilmer (as both Moses and God), Ralph Fiennes (as the Pharaoh Rameses), Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, Martin Short. Rated: PG. 99 minutes.
King David (1985 ) on July 23
Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Breaker Morant) offers the Old Testament tale of the love/hate relationship between the shepherd boy David (Richard Gere) and the powerful King Saul (Edward Woodward). PG-13. 114 minutes.
The Sign of the Cross (1932) on July 30
A Roman centurian (Fredric March) runs afoul of the Emperor Nero (Charles Laughton) and his seductive Empress (Claudette Colbert) when he falls for a young Christian woman (Elissa Landi). Result: A bad afternoon in the arena. Director Cecil B. DeMille lovingly recreates the gruesome excesses of Roman entertainment. Unrated. 108 minutes.
Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.