This is a big picture in every respect. The reign of King David projects the Old Testament in broad sweeps, depicting the obligation of David (Gregory Peck) to his subjects while at the same time spotlighting his frailties, namely his relationship with the beauteous Bathsheba (Susan Hayward). He is shown forsaking his first wife (of his harem) for Bathsheba, and pin-pointed is the stoning of an adultress for the same crime – her faithlessness while her husband was off to the wars with the Ammonites.
Expert casting throughout focuses on each characterization. Raymond Massey plays the prophet Nathan, whom Jehovah sends to King David to hold him up to judgment. The parable of David’s atonement for his lechery and treachery is capped by the 23rd Psalm which he, in his poetic youth, had conjured along with his other psalms.
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Peck is a commanding personality as the youth destined to rule Israel. He shades his character expertly. His emotional reflexes are not as static as the sultry Hayward in the femme lead. Kieron Moore is earnest as the Hittite whom David betrays because he covets his wife, Bathsheba. Massey, as the prophet, is a dominant personality throughout.
1951: Nominations: Best Story & Screenplay, Color Cinematography, Color Costume Design, Color Art Direction, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture