The rise and ruin of the Biblical bad girl is the subject of this low-budget 1953 obscurity, which is being presented on DVD for the first time (was anyone actually clamoring for this one?). The film shows some faithfulness to the story of Ahab and Jezebel, although certain flourishes clearly seem to be oomphed up (did the worship of Baal really consist of bikini-clad showgirls doing a quasi-interpretative dance?).
As Jezebel, crimson-clad Paulette Goddard gives a surprisingly somnambulist performance. With her mechanical line readings and half-lidded gaze, she is more of an embodiment of ennui rather than evil. Somewhat more spirit can be found in muscular George Nader, who plays the befuddled Israelite captain torn between his love of God and lust for Jezebel (guess who wins?). And when things get too serious, there is the incongruous presence of Joe Besser as the comedy relief chariot builder – but whether he falls into the category of the sacred or the profane can be debated elsewhere.
Yeah, this one is cheese. But in this case, it’s tasty and diverting vintage cheese.