Tyrone Power’s Solomon and Sheba (1959) + Wife for a Night (1952)

June 3, 2015 | By

Gina and Tyrone.

As promised, here’s a review of Solomon and Sheba, the 1959 film that would’ve been Tyrone Power’s final film had he lived through production instead of suffering a fatal heart attack.

Power was just 44 when he died, but even in prior films like the Eddy Duchin Story (1956), he looked much older due  in part to heavy smoking.


Gina and Yul.

Fans have always hoped some kind of special tribute edition would materialize, offering the completed version with original co-stars George Sanders, Gina Lollobrigida, and replacement star Yul Brynner; and a reconstruction or assembly of edited Power scenes, much like the final footage of Marilyn Monroe that was collated into a reconstruction of Something’s Got to Give, the film she was starring in before she was dismissed, and filming was terminated by studio Fox.

Such an endeavor is possible, but it mandates funds, time, tracking down the footage and restoring it so it matches the quality of the theatrical release. The editor part of my brain figures Power’s scenes would replace the Brynner’s, with the existing isolated music & effects track finalizing the soundtrack mix (assuming Power’s dialogue tracks still exist). For the missing scenes, insert production stills and explanatory cards much in the way Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1922) was shown in its longest version to date.

If 50-70% of Power’s scenes were shot, something more than watchable could be reconstructed.


Seriously. She wears this contraption that one suspects made even Howard Hughes envious of its design.

In my review of Twilight Time’s Blu-ray – which sports a really lovely HD transfer of this Super Technirama 70 production – I also address some of he film’s flaws, given there is no Biblical epic that’s managed to age perfectly through the ages. I still contend Cecil B. De Mille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) is one of the funniest films ever made.

Why? Because of the melodrama, the gravitas, the over-acting in spots, and a special quaintness. But that’s all counter-balanced by a stellar cast, superb effects sequences, an epic story that keeps one glued to the end, and a benchmark in production quality and showmanship that few fellow filmmakers were able to touch. Ben-Hur (1959) is marvelous, but it’s far too long, whereas De Mille always kept Commandments moving.

S&L offers its own unique mix of unintended amusement, absurd doses of titillation (see sample pic), and thrills, but really, that finale involving Egyptian and Israeli soldiers in a massive valley is stupendous. Director King Vidor may have had a great crew, but as a director, his use of montage is untouchable. For all the money Oliver Stone wasted on his bloated, dull and battle-banal epic Alexander (whichever of the 4 versions Stone cut), that taught battle in S&L kills it.

WifeForNightBecause S&L co-stars Gina Lollobrigida, I’ve ported over an earlier film review from the KQEK.com archives, Wife for a Night / Moglie per una notte, Mario Camerini’s 1952 film version of Anna Bonacci’s play which became the basis of Billy Wilder’s Kiss Me, Stupid (1964).

I haven’t expanded the original edit because at some point I’ll revisit the title, which alongside Girl with a Suitcase (1960) and Too Bad She’s Bad (1955) were released by Ivy Video way back in 2004.

Coming next: soundtrack reviews, plus Day of Anger (1967) from Arrow Video USA / MVD Visual.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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