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The Lion's Main: Sexual and Racial Politics in Samson and Delilah (1949)

Part of the lecture series 'FilmTalk: Sleeping with the Enemy', organised in partnership with the Leo Baeck Institute.

Samson and Delilah presents us with fascinating contradictions. It is a film made at the height of the Hollywood studio system, which celebrates the heroic underdog and racial minorities. It both reviles and celebrates the female body, and it combines a lush visual texture with a stern moralism. Besides trying to reconcile these contradictions, Sue Harper will analyse the symbolism of hair (not just Samson's) and will examine the function of Edith Head's costume designs, particularly the peacock cloak. She will assess the input of the Zionist thinker Vladimir Jabotinsky to the film's script, and will compare the film's treatment of Jewish/Arab relations with others in the same period.

Sue Harper is Emeritus Professor of Film History at the University of Portsmouth. She has written numerous books and articles on British cinema, and has made many radio and television appearances.


Professor Sue Harper | talks | www


Date and Time:

8 December 2011 at 6:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide
29 Russell Square
020 7636 7247

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Available from:

Admission to FilmTalk is free, but places are limited and must be reserved by emailing info@wienerlibrary.co.uk or calling 020 7636 7247.

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