VCI Home Video // 1960 // 101 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 11th, 2005
Flaunting pastel-colored coats and pissing off our siblings since 1960!
Howdy, troops! For today's lesson, we'll be looking at the story of Joseph, the gentleman most loved by his father, but despised by his brothers. What followed was a tale of a man's faith rewarded and the ultimate in poetic justice.
Geoffrey Horne (The Bridge on the River Kwai) stars as Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, and his father's favorite offspring. Sure, that's not cool and all, a parent prizing one son over the others, but once you get a look at the loser siblings, who can blame him?! Anyway, to show his affection, Jacob makes Joseph a multicolored coat, which instantly alienates him from the rest of his brothers. Grief-stricken over their lack of gaudy menswear, the brothers plot to dispose of Joseph. They ambush him and toss him down a pit.
When a caravan of slave drivers passes through, the brothers complete their journey into Biblical Jackass-land and sell Joseph. Carted to Egypt, Joseph is placed in the house of Potiphar (Robert Morley), a high-ranking Egyptian official. The slave boy quickly becomes Potiphar's favorite, as well as Potiphar's wife's. Here we learn to never mess with the wife of a high-ranking Egyptian official, and even though that isn't the moral of the story, those are still pretty wise words to live by. Mrs. Potiphar makes a false accusation against Joseph and has him tossed into prison. But news spreads of his God-given knack for deciphering dreams, and Pharaoh himself, tormented by a nightmare, calls for Joseph to interpret his dreams.
Impressed with Joseph's ability, Pharaoh makes him his right-hand man, and the onetime prison dweller now finds himself at the top of the Egyptian totem pole, which makes absolutely no sense since there weren't any totem poles in Egypt, so let's just agree that he's a big shot. Thanks to Joseph's dream techniques, Egypt narrowly escapes a horrible famine, and its stockpiles keep the people fed. And then, in a complete "the-sandal-is-on-the-other-foot" scenario that can only be executed by Jehovah, Joseph's emaciated brothers come to him, begging for mercy. So Joseph promptly executes all of his brothers, swearing to them, as they die, that he will take their wives and daughters as his personal concubines.
Actually, it doesn't happen quite like that.
The story of Joseph is probably best known by its main prop, that snazzy coat he was wearing. But there's a lot more here, and the main theme, one of forgiveness, is as potent a moral as you'll find in the Good Book. Joseph and His Brethren tells the guy's story pretty well, and despite the obvious detriments it's got going against it -- the age, the technical quality, some cheesy dubbing -- all the major plot points are hit upon.
VCI's "Epics of the Old Testament" collection consists of foreign films, some dating back four decades, dubbed in English and unleashed with spiffy packaging and menu systems. Like this film's brethren, Joseph and His Brethren boasts the same treatment. Technically, it's an eyesore, with uneven color saturation and dirt to spare. That mono track will do nothing positive for your hearing, either. As with all these Old Testament Epics, VCI has provided only a handful of extras, some previews and biographies for the spotlighted characters.
But the film itself gets the job done. Yes, Potiphar looks like someone's Uncle Ralph, as if a desperate crew member dragged a relative on set to fill the role, and the whole romantic intrigue with Potiphar's wife is doomed from the start -- and, as a result, pointless -- but Joseph's story from beginning to end gets a decent treatment. Plus, it should be suitable for all viewers, although the youngsters will probably have a hard time engaging with such dated-looking material.
Another decent dose of Biblical narrative, Joseph and His Brethren is a functional, if ugly, addition to your budding Pentateuch-on-Film collection.
Not guilty. Now, about that dream I have where I'm slowly being devoured by snowmen...
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Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 1960
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Actor and Bible Character Bios