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The Prodigal

1.0 1
Director: Richard Thorpe, Lana Turner, Edmund Purdom, Louis Calhern

Cast: Richard Thorpe, Lana Turner, Edmund Purdom, Louis Calhern


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Richard Thorpe's The Prodigal (1955) has gotten treatment so exalted as part of Warner Home Video's "Cult Camp Classics" DVD series, that the DVD itself almost seems to cross over into "camp." The transfer is beautiful -- a little pale, perhaps, compared to the original release, but rich in detail -- letterboxed to its proper anamorphic widescreen (2.35-to-1)


Richard Thorpe's The Prodigal (1955) has gotten treatment so exalted as part of Warner Home Video's "Cult Camp Classics" DVD series, that the DVD itself almost seems to cross over into "camp." The transfer is beautiful -- a little pale, perhaps, compared to the original release, but rich in detail -- letterboxed to its proper anamorphic widescreen (2.35-to-1) aspect ratio; and the audio mastering has brought Bronislau Kaper's music into its full glory. The movie is a hoot-and-a-half, even as Hollywood Biblical epics go, but it is great fun, and it does have a lot of entertainment value, even if it entertains in ways that no one involved would have intended. And the commentary by Drew Casper illuminates much of the culture of the time, although he tends to rely on more 10-dollar words in his talk than this reviewer is comfortable hearing -- and there are moments, such as his account of Edmund Purdom's movie career, that seem to cross over into campiness; at least, it was difficult for this reviewer not to laugh over parts of it. Still, one gives him credit for even tackling a commentary track on a picture such as this, so long on running time and cast names, and short on actual content; it's a tough job to fill that time with anything of substance, as is painfully obvious watching the movie, and Casper at least brings enthusiasm to what he's doing, which can draw the viewer and listener in, better than some commentaries that this reviewer has heard. The picture gets 24 chapters which seem to be well-placed, and the original trailer is here as well. The dual-layer menu opens automatically on start-up, with the "play" option in the default position.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
MGM spent -- and lost -- a fortune on The Prodigal, and the money is very visibly spent. There are lavish sets, elaborate costumes and some choice Joseph Ruttenberg cinematography. Now if only the studio had decided to spend more than $1.98 on the screenplay. Actually, to be fair, it's clear that a lot of effort went into the script -- but it was far too much effort and far too little talent. The very simple, very effective Biblical story that is its basis was blown all out of proportion and out of recognition, to the extent that the point of the original story becomes secondary. This is bad enough, but what makes things worse is that the plot that has been concocted is trite and unconvincing, though not as trite and unconvincing as the dialogue that has been ladled onto it. To make matter worse, the crucial leading role was given to Edmund Purdom, a very handsome man but an actor that required careful handling to be effective; in here, he's about as wooden as they come. Lana Turner is anything but wooden, looking about as delectable and fleshy as is humanly possible, and she gives the part everything she has -- unfortunately, to the point that it becomes a bit campy. Still, considering the script, this was the only choice she had, and at least she keeps her part interesting and lively. The only performance that is actually good is James Mitchell -- and that's probably because his character is a mute and is therefore spared the overripe dialogue the others must suffer through. Fans of overdone Biblical epics may enjoy Prodigal, but others should steer clear.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Commentary by Film Historian Dr. Drew Cooper; Theatrical Trailer; Subtitles: English & Français (Main Feature. Bonus Material/Trailer May Not Be Subtitled).

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lana Turner Samarra
Edmund Purdom Micah
Louis Calhern Nahreeb
Audrey Dalton Ruth
Neville Brand Rhakim
James Mitchell Asham
Taina Elg Elissa
Walter Hampden Eli, Micah's Father
Francis L. Sullivan Bosra the Moneylender
Joseph Wiseman Carmish
Sandy Descher Yasmin
Cecil Kellaway Governor
Philip Tonge Barber/Surgeon
David Leonard Blind Man
Henry Daniell Ramadi
Paul Cavanagh Tobiah
Tracey Roberts Tahra
Jarma Lewis Uba
Jay Novello Merchant
Dorothy Adams Carpenter's Wife
Phyllis Graffeo Miriam
Eugene Mazzola David
George Sawava Kavak
Richard Devon Risafe
Ann Cameron Lahla
Gloria Dea Faradine
John Rosser Lirhan
Charles Wagenheim Zubeir
Argentina Brunetti Woman
Paul Bryar Townsman
John Damler Jailer
John Dehner Joram
Jo Gilbert Mother
Rex Lease Purveyor
George Lewis Guard
Dayton Lummis Caleb
Gordon Richards Scribe
Chuck Roberson Chieftain
George Robotham Martyr
Almira Sessions Old Lady
Tom Steele Slave
Linda Danson Owl
Diane Gump Fox
Patricia Jackson Lion
Allison Hayes Actor

Technical Credits
Richard Thorpe Director
Joe Breen Screenwriter
Randall Duell Art Director
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Arnold A. Gillespie Special Effects
Henry W. Grace Set Decoration/Design
Bronislau Kaper Score Composer
Harold Kress Editor
Samuel James Larsen Screenwriter
Herschel McCoy Costumes/Costume Designer
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Joseph Ruttenberg Cinematographer
Charles Schnee Producer
William J. Tuttle Makeup
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
Maurice Zimm Screenwriter

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Prodigal
1. Credits [1:26]
2. Runaway Slave [4:50]
3. Betrothed to Ruth [5:21]
4. Woman Most Desired [4:36]
5. No Longer My Son [3:35]
6. Farewells [3:41]
7. Perfect Companion [5:00]
8. New Damascus Arrival [4:47]
9. Bearded Infidel [3:58]
10. Samarra's Summons [3:01]
11. Her Price [4:59]
12. Nahreeb's Vow [4:11]
13. The Lack of Something [4:19]
14. Tempting Lips [2:43]
15. Sources of Money [3:01]
16. No Further Claim [5:39]
17. Human Sacrifices [5:08]
18. I Belong to All Men [3:39]
19. Blade's Mark [2:51]
20. Enslaved [3:30]
21. Death of a Slave [4:03]
22. Crueler Punishment [3:39]
23. Miracle; Escape Plan [3:21]
24. Vulture Attack [3:53]
25. So I Would Destroy You [4:48]
26. Uprising [3:07]
27. Nahreeb's End [2:47]
28. Fiery Plunge [1:33]
29. Prodigal Son [3:55]
30. Cast List [:48]


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The Prodigal 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you order this item expecting to receive the 1931 Lawrence Tibbett film, you'll be disappointed. What you'll actually get is a 1955 biblical spectacle (also entitled ''The Prodigal'') starring Lana Turner (that's her picture at the top left of the item description). As far as I've been able to determine, the Tibbett film is unavailable on home video.