Judith of Bethulia

Judith of Bethulia
Directed by D. W. Griffith
Written by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
D. W. Griffith
Frank E. Woods
Starring Blanche Sweet
Henry B. Walthall
Cinematography G. W. Bitzer
Edited by James Smith
Distributed by General Film Company
Release dates
  • March 8, 1914 (1914-03-08)
Running time
61 mins.
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles
Judith of Bethulia

Judith of Bethulia (1914) is a film starring Blanche Sweet and Henry B. Walthall, and produced and directed by D. W. Griffith, based on the play of the same name by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. The film was the first feature-length film made by pioneering film company Biograph, although the second that Biograph released.[1][2]

Shortly after its completion and a disagreement Griffith had with Biograph executives on making more future feature-length films, Griffith left Biograph, and took the entire stock company with him. Biograph delayed the picture's release until 1914, after Griffith's departure, so that it would not have to pay him in a profit-sharing agreement they had.

The film caused controversy with its inclusion of an orgy scene.


The film is based on the biblical Book of Judith. During the siege of the Jewish city of Bethulia by the Assyrians, a widow named Judith (Blanche Sweet) has a plan to stop the war as her people suffer starvation and are ready to surrender.

The widow disguises herself as a harem girl and goes to the enemy camp, where she beguiles a general of King Nebuchadnezzar, whose army is besieging the city. Judith seduces Holofernes (Henry Walthall), then while he is drunk cuts off his head with a sabre. She returns to her city, a heroine.


Blanche Sweet as Judith


The reviews were favorable: Variety, March 27, 1914 wrote: "It is not easy to confess one's self unequal to a given task, but to pen an adequate description of the Biograph's production of 'Judith of Bethulia' is, to say the least, a full grown man's job."

The Moving Picture World, March 7, 1914 described it as: "A fascinating work of high artistry, 'Judith of Bethulia' will not only rank as an achievement in this country, but will make foreign producers sit up and take notice."[3]

See also


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