The Prodigal [DVD] [1955]

Richard Thorpe's The Prodigal (1955) has gotten treatment so exalted as part of Warner Home Video's "Cult Camp Classics" DVD series, that the DVD itself almost seems to cross over into "camp." The transfer is beautiful -- a little pale, perhaps, compared to the original release, but rich in detail -- letterboxed to its proper anamorphic widescreen (2.35-to-1) aspect ratio; and the audio mastering has brought Bronislau Kaper's music into its full glory. The movie is a hoot-and-a-half, even as Hollywood Biblical epics go, but it is great fun, and it does have a lot of entertainment value, even if it entertains in ways that no one involved would have intended. And the commentary by Drew Casper illuminates much of the culture of the time, although he tends to rely on more 10-dollar words in his talk than this reviewer is comfortable hearing -- and there are moments, such as his account of Edmund Purdom's movie career, that seem to cross over into campiness; at least, it was difficult for this reviewer not to laugh over parts of it. Still, one gives him credit for even tackling a commentary track on a picture such as this, so long on running time and cast names, and short on actual content; it's a tough job to fill that time with anything of substance, as is painfully obvious watching the movie, and Casper at least brings enthusiasm to what he's doing, which can draw the viewer and listener in, better than some commentaries that this reviewer has heard. The picture gets 24 chapters which seem to be well-placed, and the original trailer is here as well. The dual-layer menu opens automatically on start-up, with the "play" option in the default position.
$9.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • Commentary by Film Historian Dr. Drew Cooper
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Subtitles: English & Français (Main Feature. Bonus Material/Trailer May Not Be Subtitled).

Synopsis

The Prodigal
One critic has noted that The Prodigal was aptly titled, inasmuch as it was all too prodigal with the funds of the then-flagging MGM studios. In its retelling of the 22-verse Biblical story of the Prodigal Son, the film helpfully fills in the story details inconsiderately left out of the Old Testament. Edmond Purdon plays Micah, the wastrel son of Eli (Walter Hampden) who takes his share of his father's fortune and blows it all in wicked old Damascus. Micah's one redeeming feature is his unserving faithful in the Lord God Jehovah. Pagan princess Samarra (Lana Turner at her most giddily exotic) intends to seduce Micah into renouncing his faith, only to get stoned to death for her troubles. Nearly two hours pass before Micah returns home and the fatted calf is killed in his honor. If for nothing else, The Prodigal would be memorable for Lana Turner's pagan-ritual costume, which is little more than a glorified bikini. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Lana Turner
    Lana Turner - Samarra
  • Edmund Purdom
    Edmund Purdom - Micah
  • Louis Calhern
    Louis Calhern - Nahreeb
  • Audrey Dalton
    Audrey Dalton - Ruth
  • James Mitchell
    James Mitchell - Asham
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