DAVID AND BATHSHEBA—–“The King of Israel! Out there in the darkness–exposing himself to the enemy!” Quoting that line is a tad unfair to the generally intelligent script of this 1951 Sunday school flick, which is more sober-minded than many that make up the spear & sandal set.
In trying to sidestep the hoke that layered DeMille’s Samson And Delilah a few years previously, and letting MGM’s same-year colossus Quo Vadis tackle the size-prize, the Fox honchos gave this Biblical epic a restrained tone. A little too restrained, as the 116 minutes get to be pretty dull going after a while, even with a fine performance from Gregory Peck as David. Susan Hayward is less believable as Bathsheba; seductive enough but more suggestive of Palm Springs than any other oasis.
Lensing (Leon Shamroy), scoring (Alfred Newman), the fine sets provided by the art directors and the colorful costume design all drew Oscar consideration, as did the screenplay (Philip Dunne), though none took home the awards. They do keep the movie looking and sounding good, even as the lack of action has it puttering in second gear. Gwen Verdon scamps as an exotic dancer in one brief scene. A seven-foot two wrestler named Walter Talun geared up as Goliath (bonk!).
The studios $2,000,000 investment paid off with $7,000,000 in grosses. Co-starring Raymond Massey, Kieron Moore, James Robertson Justice and Jayne Meadows. Henry King directed.