Not Rated. Running time: 1 hour 53 min.
Our content ratings: Violence 5; Language 0; Sex/Nudity 3.
Our star rating (1-5): 5
…It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful…
2 Samuel 11:1-15
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.
The Old Testament story of King David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba is a tragic one. The wandering eye of the king leads to adultery, illegitimate pregnancy, botched cover up, lying, and murder. It has all the makings of one of those film noir movies Hollywood made back in the 1940s, such as The Postman Always Rings Twice. The IMDb summary reads, “A married woman and a drifter fall in love, then plot to murder her husband… but even once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions.”
Lana Turner and John Garfield starred in the original 1946 version that packed far more punch than the remake. The middle-aged Nick Smith and his much younger wife Cora run the roadside Twin Oaks in California. He hires drifter Frank Chambers as a handyman. Frank eventually begins an affair with the beautiful Cora. They agree to elope together, but turn back when she loses hope of their not having much to live on.
Like most women in such films, she is sick of her husband and has ambitions—this time not to leave town but to gain sole possession of the diner. They agree to kill Nick and collect the insurance, but the plan to knock him unconscious in the bathtub does not work. Nick recovers, thinking he has slipped in the tub. When he tells them he plans to sell the diner and go live with his sister in Santa Barbara, they try again, this time making his death seem like an auto accident at Lake Malibu.
The pair are unaware that the local District Attorney Kyle Sackett, suspicious of the pair, has been tailing them. However, he arrives on the scene too late to save Nick, and is unable to prove that the pair killed him. Sackett, of course, has the role similar to that of Nathan the prophet in the Biblical story—after a series of events and two more deaths, one a murder and the other truly accidental, justice does catch up with the pair. Indeed, it is only at the very end that we learn the meaning of the enigmatic title of the film, based on a long abandoned custom of the postman.
Note: Should you want the original story you can take the DVD The Story of DAVID and watch it enacted beginning at Scene 4 of Part 2. In this version Bathseba is clearly complicit in the adultery. When the king explains that he could not sleep and then saw her bathing on the rooftop, she replies that she had seen him often herself. We get the implication that it was not just the heat that led her from the privacy of her bathroom to the more public rooftop to bathe. There also is the film starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward as the ill-fated couple, David and Bathsheba, a film I saw long ago. It embellishes the details considerably, but is not a film I want to see again, even though it features Gregory Peck. I am sure it was not one of his favorite films in his ouvre.