Written by: Carroll Jenkins on December 16th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1973
Director: Wakefield Poole
Writer: Wakefield Poole
Cast: Georgina Spelvin, Gloria Grant, Bo White
DVD Release Date: December 10th, 2013
Approximate Running Times: 76 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: NTSC Region 0
Retail Price: $22.98
Synopsis: Three tales from the Bible are photo played; Adam and Eve, David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah.
Georgina Spelvin didn’t only do hardcore and there is actually very little here to offend anyone; the nudity is quite matter-of-fact and the interpretation of tales from the Bible should scarcely bring charges of heresy. There’s also precious little to pleasure the raincoat crowd, but it should have been a huge success with the surreal art-house audience.
This film is quite a surprise and is certainly a one-of-a-kind production. 1) Hardcore gay porno director (and practitioner) Wakefield Poole makes a dirty movie about the Bible. Except it’s not dirty. 2) There is essentially no dialogue as it’s a tribute to silent features, actors, and directors. It feels a bit like Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) due the minimalistic and surreal set designs / locations. 3) The soundtrack consists almost entirely of classical music with no voice-over narration. The presence and occasional absence of music provides dramatic emphasis to the film that recalls Walt Disney’s experimental use of the concept for Fantasia. 4) Poole was the writer and director but also the cinematographer. His camera work is quite engaging and entirely integral to the overall product. The result is something like ‘The Forbidden Zone’ as written, produced, and directed by Orson Welles and photographed by László Kovács.
Vinegar Syndrome is fast becoming for obscure low budget films what Criterion is for high budget high art product. In fact, Bible! should appeal to the Criterion/Janus customer base. The feature is produced from the negatives in an OAR full screen presentation. Other than the beginning of the first reel the source looks to be in excellent condition. The occasional blemish seems to occur in the upper right corner and is probably just crude reel change marking. The extras are extensive with the most impressive being the Actor Screen Tests. If you want a more detailed view of the principles in their altogether, here are the goods. Natural redhead beauty Caprice Couselle (‘Eve’) actually looks much more attractive in the studio than washed out in the daylight, and Bo White (Blue Summer) doesn’t have the nasty sunburn he picked up during shooting [and that ‘Eve’ rubs with sand . . ouch]. A brief (optional) introduction by Poole reveals that he intended the picture as a homage to both silent film and Fantasia and that anyone ‘in the know’ should pick up on that and other ‘in-jokes’. The original trailer is included but colors have gone red to the point where the midgets look green instead of blue (as in the feature).
This is a low budget tour-de-force that should be enjoyed without too much foreknowledge of the twists and turns or the thematic focus of the three tales [for the first viewing, of course]. All are different and all are enjoyable.
SPOILER: Should not have shown Adam’s belly button since he didn’t have one. No tan lines, either.
SPOILER: Georgina Spelvin displays a virtuoso sense of comic timing. Who would have thought?