Hayworth Makes it Worth it
Having been sent to live in Rome from a young age Princess Salome (Rita Hayworth) of Galilee finds herself being banished and sent home when Emperor Tiberius (Cedric Hardwicke) objects to his nephew's fondness for the Barbarian woman. It is on the journey back that she first meets Claudius (Stewart Granger) as he takes pleasure in flirting with her aboard the ship they sail on. Back in Galilee there is unease at the palace as King Herod (Charles Laughton) is ill at ease due to John the Baptist (Alan Badel) having returned to the area whilst Queen Herodias (Judith Anderson) is ill at ease due to Herod having lustful feelings for Salome who is his stepdaughter. But things appear to be heating up between Salome and Claudius with rumour appearing that both are about to convert to the new religion.
I've watched "Salome" I think it is 3 times now and have come to the conclusion that each day on set someone tossed a coin to decide what sort of movie they were making that day. It is the only way I can explain how in one scene you can have Stewart Granger delivering serious drama and then the next he seems to be turning in a comedic performance befitting something more akin to a romantic comedy. It is not just Granger and his character who is prone to unexplainable mood changes, Charles Laughton also seems prone to changing between comedy and drama. It makes "Salome" an uneven movie with a storyline often getting lost in amongst the dramatic changes of focus.
But truth be told "Salome" is one of those Hollywood productions which is as much about the production as it is the story. As such we have the impressive sets and the equally impressive, figure enhancing costumes and the orchestral score full of swells and sweeps to lead you through the movie. Truth be told whilst "Salome" is a visually impressive movie it is far from being an epic movie.
There is of course some thing else which "Salome" is about, or some one to be more precise, as it is Rita Hayworth who makes this movie. Not only does Hayworth deliver a consistent character portrayal but eye catching pretty much describes her through out the entire movie. As such it has to be said that whilst you have the tall, dark and handsome Stewart Granger turning on the charm it is Hayworth you remember this movie for and only Hayworth.
What this all boils down to is that "Salome" is entertaining mainly because Rita Hayworth is so eye catching from start to finish. But it is also in some ways entertaining because it is dramatically inconsistent as one minute you have drama and the next you have actors hamming it up.