Thought lost for decades, this romantic melodrama of the Balkan Wars is the second and final collaboration between leading lady Blanche Sweet and director Cecil B. DeMille. The production was marred by personality conflicts, illness and a tragic accidental death but the film itself is a scrumptiously sleazy little slice of hokum.
D.W. Griffith gets biblical (or not, depending on whether you accept the apocrypha) with the story of an Assyrian invasion of Israel and the smokin’ hot widow who decides the best path to victory is to make the enemy general lose his head, literally. Blanche Sweet makes a powerful impression as the titular heroine but the story is Victorianized to minimize her awesomeness. The enemy general is cute and gives her gifts, you see. Sure, he’s looting and pillaging and enslaving but, but, stuff! It seems that sword-wielding patriots still must think with their ovaries. Sigh.
Villainy is afoot in ancient Israel, the Assyrians have laid siege to a little mountain town. All seems to be lost. But the Assyrians didn’t count on a young widow named Judith (Blanche Sweet), who wields a mean saber. Will the charms of the enemy general (Henry B. Walthall) derail her plans? Or will our Assyrian lose his head over the comely widow? This is an early feature film and the start of director D.W. Griffith’s big, Big, BIG! period.
Continue reading “Judith of Bethulia (1914) A Silent Film Review”