Alla Nazimova, the Russian-born, theater-trained actress decided, on the occasion of her contract release from Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 1921, to make films "with merit." The second – and last – of these was Oscar Wilde's controversial Salomé. Her director was her husband, Charles Bryant. Her set and costume designer was the beautiful and capricious heiress Winifred Hudnet, later known as Natacha Rambova and the future Mrs. Rudolph Valentino (two months after the picture was finally released). While Madame Nazimova (all her co-workers addressed her as "Madame") and Rambova attempted to follow Wilde's play, they were more successful in recreating Aubrey Beardsley's sumptuously fantastic Asian-inspired illustrations which accompanied the first English edition of Wilde's text.
Salomé (1923) loosely follows the biblical story of King Herod and his unbridled lust for his 14-year-old stepdaughter, Salomé. Her arousal over and sexual baiting of the pious Jokanaan (a.k.a. John the Baptist) and subsequent rejection by him enrages the teenager. It is, of course, Salomé’s desire for Jokanaan that causes her to dance before Herod. She ultimately demands Jokanaan’s severed head to be presented to her – her fee for an arousing performance.
Lot in Sodom (1933) Directed by J.S. Watson Jr. and Melville Webber
"We are shown the orgies of the sodomites, semi-nude young men, fair of countenance and strong of limb, as they carry on their bacchanals. Pleasure and pain, ecstasy and despair, are mingled in these faun-like evil faces that glide like apparitions in a mist before us . . . I have never seen light manipulated so eloquently as in these expressive lights and shadows which sometimes form men or fragments of a body, sometimes coagulate into flowers or break up their particles into water – and at all times make Lot in Sodom into a moving and arresting film."
- Herman G. Weinberg, Close-Up, 1933
A Note On This Edition: Both Salomé and Lot in Sodom are digitally mastered from excellent 35mm film elements. Salomé includes all original titles, tints and tones; although a few segments show minor nitrate film deterioration; image quality is generally excellent. Salomé also includes a choice of an orchestral score composed and conducted by Marc-Olivier Dupin and a score composed and performed by Silent Orchestra (Carlos Garza and Rick O’Meara). Lot in Sodom has its original experimental soundtrack by Alec Wilder.
Length: 74 minutes
Director: Charles Bryant
Starring: Alla Nazimova, Mitchell Lewis, Rose Dione, Arthur Jasmine, Nigel De Brulier, Earl Schenck
Based Upon the Play by Oscar Wilde
Written for the Screen by: Peter M. Winters (Pseud. for Alla Nazimova)
Costumes and Settings: Natacha Rambova Photography: Charles J. Van Enger, A.S.C.
Lot in Sodom
Length: 27 minutes
Directors: J.S. Watson Jr. and Melville Webber
Starring: Frederick Haak, Hildegarde Watson, Dorothea House, Lewis Whitbeck
Music and Sound: Alec Wilder
Produced for DVD by David Shepard
From the Blackhawk Films® Collection
Presented by Flicker Alley
Nigel De Brulier
Earl Schenck / Frederick Haak
Based Upon the Play by Oscar Wilde Written for the Screen by: Peter M. Winters (Pseud. for Alla Nazimova) / J.S. Watson Jr. and Melville Webber
Charles Bryant / J.S. Watson Jr. and Melville Webber
Alla Nazimova / J.S. Watson Jr. and Melville Webber