This Week’s Review: The Bible

The Curmudgeon has mentioned several of Hollywood’s versions of the Bible during the current plague, but he never got around to the 1966 epic modestly named “The Bible.” (Advertisements include the phrase, “in the beginning,” but that is not part of the official title.) The original idea seems to have been one of filming a long series of films that would eventually stretch from Eden to the Apocalypse, but there were no attempts at continuing the adaptations.

The film has several merits, but it is firmly rooted in the sensibilities of the early 1960s, just before the dawn of the ratings system. Adam and Eve, though nude, remain modest even before Eve goes shopping for fig leaves. The Sodom and Gomorrah scenes raised eyebrows at the time, but seem tame in comparison to what is now permitted, even in PG-13 movies.

The film covers several incidents from the first half of Genesis, but the first lengthy episode is the story of Noah. John Huston directed the film and cast himself as Noah. This version is humorous and still strikes me as better than the awful Russell Crowe version of recent years. The second part of the film features George C. Scott as Abraham. That section is tedious at times, but Scott is superb; Peter O’Toole is also effective as the three angels who visit Abraham while en route to the Cities of the Plain.

This might be a good time to say a few nasty things about a 1963 film which has to be one of the worst Biblical films ever made: Stewart Granger in “Sodom and Gomorrah” (aka “The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah”). The film is available on DVD, but I have no desire to add it to my collection. It was one of Granger’s last films and a sad note with which to end a career. The film is not pornographic; it is just silly.