SAMSON AND DELILAH. Paramount, 1949. Victor Mature, Hedy Lamar, George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, Henry Wilcoxon and Russ Tamblyn. Written by Jesse L. Lasky Jr, Fredric M. Frank, Harold Lamb and Vladimir Jabotinsky. Produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

   Readers of these pages know me as a man whose life has been a ceaseless, unending and redundant search for spiritual enrichment. Hardly surprising then, that especially at this time of year I should turn to Old Time Hollywood in search of enlightenment – where better?

   Actually, Samson and Delilah ain’t bad. In its own splashy way, it’s actually pretty good, with gaudy Technicolor, sumptuous sets and costumes, and a big finale when (SPOILER ALERT!) Samson brings the heathen temple down on the Philistines.

   Lasky and Frank’s script is mostly simple stuff, with clearly-defined Good Guys up against Bad Guys with mostly no redeeming qualities at all — although they go to some lengths to provide Hedy Lamar’s Delilah with some credible motivation for destroying Samson, and even embellish the Bible a bit by giving her a change of heart late in the show, where she even helps Samson (SPOILER ALERT!) bring the heathen temple down on the Philistines.

   Said Philistines are ably led by George Sanders, as the Saran of Gaza (more on this later) amply supplied with cynical quips, an army led by DeMille Stalwart Henry Wilcoxon, and staffed with reliable heavies like Mike Mazurki, Harry Cording, Lane Chandler, Fred Kohler Jr, Bob Kortman, Ted Mapes, John Merton, Ray Teal, Tom Tyler, Harry Woods… and that’s George Reeves as the wounded soldier who brings the news of defeat to the Saran’s court.

   The acting is variable rather than Biblical. Victor Mature’s brainless strongman is predictably smug, Angela Lansbury suitably vapid, and Hedy Lamar…. Well, she delivers her lines capably, but DeMille has her perform with a body language like a silent movie vamp waiting to pounce, knees akimbo, on our poor lummox or any guy on two legs who can’t outrun her.

   As I say though, this is mostly light and enjoyable and should be taken on that level – especially when Mature as Samson counsels the future King Saul (Russ Tamblyn) to put down that sling and make something of himself. And again, the smashing finale is worth waiting for, when the Saran wraps things up with a caustic comment while Samson (SPOILER ALERT!) brings the heathen temple down on the Philistines in a burst of beautifully done special effects.

   This is, in its own way, Great Filmmaking, along the lines of Forbidden Planet, Duel in the Sun or Mackenna’s Gold, and if you haven’t read any good comic books lately, I recommend it highly.