Film / The Prodigal

The Prodigal (1955), produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is loosely based on the story of the Prodigal Son. It was one of the last films in the big-budget Hollywood Biblical epic tradition. Micah (Edmund Purdom), the prodigal in question, falls prey to the deadly charms of the pagan high priestess Samarra (Lana Turner). However, after much debauchery, Micah is betrayed, tossed into jail and almost killed. Needless to say, however, he escapes from prison, leads a revolt against the evil pagans and returns home.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: This is a much, much expanded version of what the Prodigal Son was doing.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Elissa.
  • Beta Couple: Asham and Elissa (at least, until she's murdered).
  • The Dutiful Son: Micah's brother is pretty impatient about his behavior.
  • Human Sacrifice: As demanded by Samarra's religion.
  • I Owe You My Life: The escaped slave Asham attaches himself to Micah for this reason, despite Micah's insistence that he just go free.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Asham avenges his beloved Elissa by successfully throwing a knife into another man's neck while balancing on horseback.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Samarra winds up dying in the fire pit.
  • The Makeover: Micah and Asham get new togs in order to fit in properly at Damascus.
  • Fanservice: Samarra's primary purpose. However, Micah and Asham seem to spend a lot of time bare-chested.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Asham, when Micah is involved. Otherwise, not so much.
  • Lost Her in a Card Game: Micah wins Elissa for Asham in the pagan gambling den.
  • Lava Pit: The primary method of dispatching the Human Sacrifice involves a high dive into a flaming pit.
  • Old Shame: According to the DVD commentary, the film was very much this for Turner.
  • Rebel Leader: Micah turns into one after his imprisonment.
  • Star-Derailing Role: This film was intended to solidify Purdom's stature as a Hollywood leading man. Instead, it tanked at the box office, and Purdom spent the rest of his career in Europe.
  • Taking the Spear: At the beginning of the film, Asham demonstrates his gratitude to Micah by taking a spear meant for Micah.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Micah undergoes a bad whipping while in jail.
  • The Voiceless: Asham.
  • Wretched Hive: Damascus.