Salomé (1918 film)

Salomé is a 1918 American silent drama film produced by William Fox and starring actress Theda Bara.

Salome, 1918 - Poster.jpg
Directed byJ. Gordon Edwards
Written byAdrian Johnson (scenario)
Oscar Wilde (play Salome)
Story byFlavius Josephus
Produced byWilliam Fox
StarringTheda Bara
G. Raymond Nye
Alan Roscoe
Bertram Grassby
CinematographyJohn W. Boyle
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release date
  • October 6, 1918 (1918-10-06)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)


As described in a film magazine,[1] Salome uses her wiles in pursuit of King Herod, whose power she desires. She has disposed of Herod's chief rival, and causes his wife to be killed through her own treachery. John the Baptist, who has secured a hold on the people, denounces Herod and his court. Herod has John thrown in jail for fomenting sedition. There Salome meets him, and becomes crazed with passion, but when John rejects her she seeks revenge. With a sensuous dance she gains the approval of Herod, and demands John's head as her reward. This act brings her own punishment when she is crushed to death beneath the sharp spokes on the shields of the Roman legionnaires.


One of the sets used to film the movie.

Production notesEdit

Portions of the film were shot in Palm Springs, California.[2]: 168–71 


Theda Bara in Salomé

Although the film proved to be popular with some theaters charging extra for tickets to see it,[3][4] Salomé also proved to be controversial. For example, St. Louis, Missouri churches of varying denominations organized to protest the showing of the film.[5] They objected not only to Bara's attire, but also to the divergence of the plot from Biblical text, such as scenes where John the Baptist was preaching in Jerusalem and where Salome declares her love to John, and to the youthful appearance of John.[5] Objections were also made that children were attending showings of the film.[5] In response, director Edwards stated that his Salomé was not based upon any single version of the story, but was a combination of many versions and used poetic license.[6] Edwards also noted the film had a "big, moral lesson" since "Salome, according to a consensus of literary opinion, was the wanton creature criminal history has given us" and who "drove the most diabolical bargain that has ever been known" by bartering "a dance for the head of a man."[6]

Like many American films of the time, Salomé was subject to restrictions and cuts by city and state film censorship boards. For example, the Chicago Board of Censors required a cut, in Reel 5, of a closeup of Salome in a litter where she raises her arm and exposes a breast, Reel 6, scene of executioner's sword descending, and, Reel 8, in two scenes where Salome is shown bending over dungeon, portions of film where her breasts are exposed.[7]

Preservation statusEdit

Salomé is now considered to be a lost film.[8][9]

French film preservationist and historian Henri Langlois said he had the opportunity to buy this film but dismissed it as he felt that the film was not considered a classic. He subsequently realized his lost chance and regretted prejudging which films as worthy of preserving, deciding instead to preserve whatever film he was able to.[10]

In popular cultureEdit

A scene in the 1918 film The Cook, starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, spoofs parts of this movie, with Arbuckle dressing in drag and doing his best "Salomé" impression.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Advertising Aids for Busy Managers: Salome". Moving Picture World. New York City: Chalmers Publishing Company. 39 (3): 389. Jan 18, 1919. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  2. ^ Niemann, Greg (2006). Palm Springs Legends: Creation of a Desert Oasis. San Diego, CA: Sunbelt Publications. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-932653-74-1. OCLC 61211290. (here for Table of Contents)
  3. ^ "How Keane Built Up the Band Box: Chicago Madison Street Exhibitor Swore Public Would Pay for the Right Stuff and Proved It". Moving Picture World. New York City: Chalmers Publishing Company. 39 (7): 897. Feb 15, 1919. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
  4. ^ Gray, Paul (Feb 15, 1919). "Dayton New Letter: Business Good in Dayton". Moving Picture World. New York City: Chalmers Publishing Company. 39 (7): 927. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
  5. ^ a b c "Protest Against Showing of Salome: Church Federations of St. Louis Raise Objection to Theda Bara's Dearth of Attire". Moving Picture World. New York City: Chalmers Publishing Company. 39 (4): 476. Jan 25, 1919. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
  6. ^ a b "Defend Salome's Lack of Clothing: Theda Bara and her Director, J. Gordon Edwards, Reply to Critics of Star's Characterization". Moving Picture World. New York City: Chalmers Publishing Company. 39 (8): 1059. Feb 22, 1919. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
  7. ^ "Official Cut-Outs by the Chicago Board of Censors". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 7 (13): 44. September 21, 1918.
  8. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: Salomé". Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  9. ^ Salome at; Lost Films Wanted(Wayback Machine)
  10. ^ Wilmington, Michael (May 30, 2004). "Cannes treats cinephiles to tale of Henri Langlois". p. 1. Retrieved May 26, 2013.

External linksEdit