AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Alternate Title: Dance of the Seven Veils
Director: William Dieterle (Dir)
Release Date:   Mar 1953
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 24 Mar 1953
Production Date:   mid-Jun--early Aug 1952
Duration (in mins):   102-103 or 105
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Cast:   Rita Hayworth (Princess Salome)  
    Stewart Granger (Commander Claudius)  
    Charles Laughton (King Herod)  
    Judith Anderson (Queen Herodias)  
    Sir Cedric Hardwicke (Tiberius Caesar)  
    Basil Sydney (Pontius Pilate)  
    Maurice Schwartz (Ezra)  
    Arnold Moss    
  and introducing Alan Badel (John the Baptist)  
    Sujata and Asoka (Oriental dancers)  
    Rex Reason (Marcellus Fabius)  
    Robert Warwick (Courier)  
    Carmen D'Antonio (Rebecca, Salome's servant)  
    Michael Granger (Captain Quintus)  
    Karl "Killer" Davis (Slave master)  
    Joe Shilling (Advisor)  
    David Wold (Advisor)  
    Ray Beltram (Advisor)  
    Joe Sawaya (Advisor)  
    Anton Northpole (Advisor)  
    Carlo Tricoli (Advisor)  
    Franz Roehn (Advisor)  
    William McCormick (Advisor)  
    Mickey Simpson (Herod's captain of the guard)  
    Eduardo Cansino (Roman guard)  
    Barry Brooks (Roman guard)  
    Lou Nova (Executioner)  
    Fred Letuli (Sword dancer)  
    John Wood (Sword dancer)  
    William Spaeth (Fire eater)  
    Alel Pina (Acrobat)  
    Jerry Pina (Acrobat)  
    Henry Pina (Acrobat)  
    Henry Escalante (Acrobat)  
    Gillert Maques (Acrobat)  
    Richard Rivas (Acrobat)  
    Miguel Gutierez (Acrobat)  
    Ramiro Rivas (Acrobat)  
    Ruben T. Rivas (Acrobat)  
    Hector Urtiaga (Acrobat)  
    Duke Johnson (Juggling specialty)  
    Earl Brown (Galilean soldier)  
    Bud Cokes (Galilean soldier)  
    George Khoury (Assasssin)  
    Leonard George (Assassin)  
    Eva Hyde (Herodias' servant)  
    Charles Wagenheim (Simon)  
    Leslie Denison (Court attendant)  
    Henry dar Boggia (Politician)  
    Michael Couzzi (Politician)  
    Bobker Ben Ali (Politician)  
    Don De Leo (Politician)  
    John Parrish (Politician)  
    Eddy Fields (Politician)  
    Robert Garabedion (Politician)  
    Sam Scar (Politician)  
    Tris Coffin (Guard)  
    Bruce Cameron (Guard)  
    John Crawford (Guard)  
    Guy Kingsford (Officer)  
    Carleton Young (Officer)  
    Michael Mark (Old farmer)  
    David Leonard (Old scholar)  
    Maurice Samuels (Old scholar)  
    Ralph Moody (Old scholar)  
    Saul Martell (Old scholar)  
    Paul Hoffman (Sailmaster)  
    Stanley Waxman (Patrician)  
    Jack Low (Townsman)  
    Bert Rose (Townsman)  
    Tom Hernandez (Townsman)  
    Trevor Ward (Blind man)  
    Fred Berest (Sailor)  
    Rick Vallin (Sailor)  
    George Keymas (Sailor)  
    Roque Barry (Slave)  
    Italia De Nublia    
    Davis Ahdar    
    Charles Soldani    
    Dimas Sotello    
    William Wilkerson    
    Mario Lamm    
    Tina Menard    

Summary: In the province of Galilee, under the rule of Rome's Tiberius Caesar, King Herod and Queen Herodias sit on the throne and are condemned by a prophet known as John the Baptist. Herodias bitterly resents John's denunciation of her marriage to the king, her former husband's brother, and the Baptist's claim that she is an adulteress. Herod, however, takes no action against John's seditious preaching, fearing that John may be the messiah foretold by prophecy. In Rome, Tiberius appoints Pontius Pilate as governor of Judea, where he is directed to maintain the peace. Caesar then rejects a petition from his nephew, Marcellus Fabius, who requests permission to wed the beautiful daughter of Herodias, Princess Salome, who has lived in Rome since childhood. Caesar reminds Marcellus that he must marry a Roman and, calling Salome a barbarian, banishes her back to Galilee. Salome departs Rome for Galilee on the same ship on which Pilate sails. During the voyage Commander Claudius flirts with Salome, but she remains aloof. Upon arriving in Judea, Salome and her escort, led by Claudius, come across a crowd of people by the river, who are being baptized by John. Claudius, who is a secret convert to the prophet's new religion, saves John when he is attacked for preaching against Rome. That night, Claudius slips away from Salome's camp and visits John, who warns him never to risk his life for him again. The next day at the palace, Herodias joyfully receives word of Salome's arrival, but worries about keeping her daughter safe from her stepfather Herod's well-known lechery. That evening at a formal supper welcoming the new governor, Herod is fawning over Salome, when a report arrives that John has entered the city. To Pilate's and Herodias' dismay, Herod refuses to order any action. Salome is puzzled by her mother's fear of John and remains skeptical when Claudius later reveals that he believes John is a prophet. A few nights later, Salome disguises herself in plain robes in order to attend a sermon delivered by John. When the Baptist condemns Herodias for ignoring the law, Salome defends her, but is startled when John recognizes her and warns her not to get caught up in the wickedness at court. Returning to the palace, Salome visits Herodias, who explains that if John is the messiah, as Herod believes, prophecy forbids that he be harmed. Salome suggests that her mother leave Herod, but Herodias reveals that she has remained only to ensure Salome's inheritance of the throne. Salome then pleads with Claudius to arrest John to appease her mother. Claiming that he has no authority to do so, Claudius refuses, leaving Salome hurt and disappointed. Desperate to put a stop to John's public accusations, Herodias arranges for an assassin to strike at John's next sermon, but Claudius, disguised as a local shepherd, intercedes and demands the assassin be taken to Herod. Although the man refuses to confess, Herod realizes Herodias is behind the attack and decides to bring John before the ministers for speaking treason. The following day, John's arrest stirs the people, and Salome, believing Claudius is responsible, is content. In the ministers' chamber, John declares that he is not the messiah and can only preach the truth, but the ministers, under Herod's coercion, find him guilty. Privately, Herod offers to save John's life if he will stop his denunciations, but John refuses and is imprisoned. Claudius beseeches Herod to free John as his imprisonment will bring about an uprising by the people, and when Herod refuses, the commander hurries to Jerusalem for an audience with Pilate. Claudius advises Pilate that a rebellion in Galilee may spread to the other provinces, but Pilate wants John executed. When Claudius urges Pilate to turn away from using force and try more peaceful methods, the governor realizes that Claudius has been converted. Because of their long friendship, he resists placing Claudius under arrest, but orders him back to Rome on the next available galley ship. Shortly thereafter, Claudius witnesses a sermon and healing of the sick by a carpenter who has been gaining reputation in the countryside. In Galilee, Herodias anxiously watches the growing public agitation for John's release and shocks Salome by asking her to gain Herod's favor by performing a dance at the feast that evening, then having him destroy John. Appalled, Salome seeks out Claudius, who takes her to John's cell and describes how the carpenter raised a man from the dead. Upon learning this, John declares that the carpenter is the prophesized messiah. Overcome, Salome confesses her sins and the Baptist blesses her. Claudius then tells Salome that he will risk his rank to free John, but she insists that she will perform for Herod and request John's freedom. That night, Salome dances for the king, who is mesmerized. Herodias then suggests he give her the Baptist's head and her advisor, Micha, quickly takes an executioner to John's cell, where Claudius' soldiers battle the palace guard. John is taken by Micha's men and beheaded, and his head is taken to Herod and the queen. Horrified, Salome denounces her mother and flees with Claudius to the countryside, where they find solace in the words of the carpenter. 

Production Company: Beckworth Corp.  
  Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: William Dieterle (Dir)
  Earl Bellamy (Asst dir)
Producer: Buddy Adler (Prod)
Writer: Harry Kleiner (Scr)
  Harry Kleiner (Story)
  Jesse L. Lasky Jr. (Story)
Photography: Charles Lang (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: John Meehan (Art dir)
Film Editor: Viola Lawrence (Film ed)
Set Decoration: William Kiernan (Set dec)
Costumes: Emile Santiago (Men's cost)
  Jean Louis (Gowns)
Music: Arthur Morton (Orch)
  Roger Wagner Chorale (Choral mus)
  Morris Stoloff (Mus dir)
  George Duning (Mus score)
  Daniele Amfitheatrof (Mus for dances)
Sound: Lodge Cunningham (Sd eng)
Dance: Valerie Bettis (Dance for Miss Hayworth created by)
Make Up: Clay Campbell (Makeup)
  Helen Hunt (Hair styles)
Production Misc: Millard Sheets (Tech consultant)
Color Personnel: Francis Cugat (Technicolor col consultant)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Beckworth Corp. 28/1/1953 dd/mm/yyyy LP2233

PCA NO: 16050
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording
  col: Technicolor

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Biblical
Subjects (Major): Biblical characters
  Herod I, King of Judea, 73-74 B.C.
  John, the Baptist, Saint
  Salome (Biblical character)
Subjects (Minor): Ambition
  Conversion (Religious)
  Family relationships
  Galley slaves
  Jesus Christ
  Pontius Pilate
  Romantic obsession

Note: Working titles of the film were Dance of the Seven Veils and Salome--the Dance of the Seven Veils . A 13 Feb 1952 LAT news item announced that Robert Ardrey would be writing the script, but his contribution to the final film has not been determined. The same item stated that the film was to be based on the novel Good Tidings by William Sidney, but there is no indication that that author ever published a book by that name. Director William Dieterle did write a novel in 1950 titled The Good Tidings , but it is not known if Dieterle's book has any connection to the film. According to New Testament accounts in the books of Matthew and Mark, the real Princess Salome (1st century A.D.) was the granddaughter of Herod the Great (73--20 B.C.) and daughter of Herodias and Herod Philip. Unlike the story presented in the film, after Salome's dance for her stepfather Herod Antipas, she requested the head of John the Baptist at the behest of her mother.
       Rita Hayworth's father, Eduardo Cansino, was cast in a small role as a Roman guard. A HR news item adds Peter Brocco in the cast, but he was not identifiable in the print viewed. The picture marked the American feature film debut of English actor Alan Badel. Information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that studio head Harry Cohn worked closely with the PCA to minimize protests from the Catholic Legion of Decency about the portrayal of "a lascivious dance in a picture dealing with John the Baptist and Christ." The PCA also closely monitored Hayworth's wardrobe for the dance, to avoid the suggestion of a "striptease." The Legion gave the film a "B" rating upon its release. Columbia came under strong criticism by the Allied States Association of Motion Picture Exhibitors for limiting prerelease engagements of Salome to qualifying theaters in cities of 75,000 people or more and charging higher admission prices.
       The story of Salome has been filmed many times. American versions include the 1918 Fox film Salome starring Theda Bara and directed by J. Gordon Edwards (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ); a 1922 Allied Productions film starring Nazimova and directed by Charles Bryant; and a 1923 George H. Wiley film starring Diane Allen and directed by Malcolm Strauss (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   21 Mar 1953.   
Box Office   14 Mar 1953.   
Daily Variety   13 Mar 53   p. 3.
Film Daily   13 Mar 53   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Jun 1952   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jun 1952   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Aug 1952   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Mar 53   p. 3.
Los Angeles Times   13 Feb 1952.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   14 Mar 53   p. 1757.
New York Times   22 Mar 53   sec. II, p. 5.
New York Times   25 Mar 53   p. 37.
Variety   21 Jan 1953   p. 7, 24.
Variety   18 Mar 53   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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