The Prodigal

  • 1955
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Religious

Garbage, even when wrapped in silk and tied with a gold cord, is still garbage. They tried to clothe this film in all manner of finery, but couldn't hide the fact that it was garbage from the start. In the New Testament, Luke tells of the Prodigal Son in a bit less than 300 well-chosen words. In an effort to cash in on a mild flurry of interest in biblical...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Rating:

Garbage, even when wrapped in silk and tied with a gold cord, is still garbage. They tried to clothe this film in all manner of finery, but couldn't hide the fact that it was garbage from the start. In the New Testament, Luke tells of the Prodigal Son in a bit less than 300 well-chosen

words. In an effort to cash in on a mild flurry of interest in biblical films, MGM thought they could take the brief verses and expand them into just under two hours. Although the story had been retold before in the 1926 silent THE WANDERER (directed by Raoul Walsh and starring William Collier,

Jr., as the son and Greta Nissen as the woman who tempts him), writer Larsen submitted it to the studio in an expanded treatment. Dore Schary assigned Joe Breen, Jr., to help in the development (his father was the censor) and the script chores were given to Maurice Zimm. Herschel McCoy, who had

done the costumes for QUO VADIS, JULIUS CAESAR, and JOAN OF ARC did a good job recreating the authentic garb of the era with over 4000 changes of clothing, nearly 300 for the leading players. Didn't help. Purdom plays the son of Hampden, a venerable Hebrew. Purdom is affianced to Dalton, a nice

Jewish girl, and everything seems kosher. Then Purdom visits the fleshpot known as Damascus and meets Turner, who wears as little as the censors could possibly have allowed and worships Baal, a pagan god. Purdom is struck by her blonde beauty (blondes were a rarity in that neighborhood and this

was Turner's first time back in flaxen tresses after having been a brunette in her two previous movies) and soon returns to his town, asks for his inheritance and leaves Dalton waiting at the canopy the night before they are to step on the wine glass. Back in Damascus, Turner is in charge of her

religion's rites, one of which includes the taking of human life. Purdom, an innocent, is soon in trouble. Calhern, a villainous cohort of Turner, feels that Purdom has no business cavorting with the woman, and does his best to create a rift. Sullivan is a usurious loan shark who also wants Purdom

out of the way and even Turner makes the demand that Purdom secure an expensive pearl to give as a token of his esteem for her faith. Everyone is so rotten and duplicitous that the only shred of humanity is a brief romance between Turner's slave, Elg, and Mitchell, a mute runaway. Purdom falls

hard for Turner and is soon out of funds. Unable to make good on his IOUs, he is sold into slavery. His captors offer to free him if he will give up Judaism, but Purdom refuses. When they think he's dead, they throw him into a pit of vultures where he single-handedly defeats the creatures, then

frees the other slaves. Next he rallies the poor and hungry Damascans and leads a revolt against the powers that be. The final scenes show Turner being stoned by the furious crowd, then falling into the eternal fires where she has roasted many a disbeliever. Purdom is welcomed home by Hampden (The

Prodigal Son Returns) and the picture ends on an up note for the audience, although not for the producers, who failed to recover the more than $5 million they spent on the film.

The word "prodigal" means "recklessly wasteful and extravagant"--an apt description of this movie. It's Hollywood at its worst as they fill the screen with spectacle and grandiose sets while totally forgetting the humanity of a man who made a mistake, got mixed up with the wrong kind of woman,

paid the price, and came home to his loving family. While the movie was being made, Purdom was having a hot time with Linda Christian, who was then married to Tyrone Power, who earlier had been a "great friend" of Turner's. That kind of undercurrent can only happen in the movie business or in

PEYTON PLACE, a much better film that Turner also starred in. In a small role as "Tahra," a young Tracey Roberts is seen. She gave up acting for the most part and became one of the most respected acting teachers in Hollywood. Charles Schnee, who wrote many screenplays, including THE BAD AND THE

BEAUTIFUL, was making his producing debut with this.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Garbage, even when wrapped in silk and tied with a gold cord, is still garbage. They tried to clothe this film in all manner of finery, but couldn't hide the fact that it was garbage from the start. In the New Testament, Luke tells of the Prodigal Son in a… (more)

Show More »

Trending TonightSee all »