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The King of Kings (1927)

Not Rated  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  1928 (Austria)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 1,259 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 19 critic

Jesus Christ faces religious and political oppression during his ministry and in the days before his death and resurrection.

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Title: The King of Kings (1927)

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The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.

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Society-girl thrill seeker Lydia causes the death of motorcycle policeman and is prosecuted by her fiancé Daniel who describes in lurid detail the downfall of Rome. While she's in prison she reforms and Daniel becomes a wasted alcoholic.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Dorothy Cumming ...
Ernest Torrence ...
...
James Neill ...
James - Brother of John
...
Robert Edeson ...
Matthew - the Publican
Sidney D'Albrook ...
Thomas, the Doubter
David Imboden ...
Andrew - a Fisherman
Charles Belcher ...
Clayton Packard ...
Robert Ellsworth ...
Charles Requa ...
John T. Prince ...
...
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Storyline

Mary Magdalene becomes angry when Judas, now a follower of Jesus, won't come to her feast. She goes to see Jesus and becomes repentant. From there the Bible story unfolds through the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Most reverent and strikingly beautiful panorama of the tragedy of all ages--the world's greatest screen epic. A production acclaimed by world-famed scholars, press and public in this country and abroad, as the most ambitious presentation of the final years of the life of Jesus ever pictured on the screen. An epochal motion picture that will live forever in the hearts of mankind. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1928 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

König der Könige  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(alternate) | (premiere)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System) (1931 reissue)| | (RCA Photophone System)

Color:

| (2-strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cecil B. DeMille intended that the role of the Jesus Christ go to J.B. Warner, a handsome and popular actor in westerns at the time. By the time production began, Warner had passed away of tuberculosis at age 29. Instead, H.B. Warner (Henry B. Warner) was cast as Jesus. Contrary to popular misconception, the two were not actually brothers. According to an in-depth article on J.B. Warner "Classic Images" by Grange B. McKinney, the two were not even related. J.B.'s real name was James B. Tobias, and he adopted the surname of Warner after H.B. Warner's family took him in and raised him. This familial error appears in several reference books. See more »

Goofs

When the blind girl gets pulled through the window, she is wearing modern underwear. See more »

Quotes

Mary Magdalene: Harness my zebras - gift of the Nubian King! This Carpenter shall learn that he cannot hold a man from Mary Magdalene!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Gospel According To Cecil
27 December 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Cecil B. DeMille's film about Jesus was made during a period in his career when he left Paramount and organized his own studio. Unfortunately for DeMille his studio went belly up after the stock market crash of 1929. The King of Kings is unquestionably the greatest film he made during that period.

But in DeMille's cinema gospel he eschewed the traditional Christmas story to be found in those four other gospels. DeMille begins his movie with a real lavish party at the home of a noted women of the town Mary Magdalene played by Jacqueline Logan. It's DeMille showing revelry at its best and most alluring.

Logan asks why one of her favorites, Judas Iscariot hasn't been attending her clambakes recently. She hears he's been hanging around with this carpenter from Nazareth reputed to have performed some miracles and who doesn't approve of her lifestyle.

That's it for Ms. Magadalene; she's not about to let this hick take one of her favorites away. Off in a chariot pulled by Zebras she goes after this carpenter. She finds H.B. Warner as Jesus doing one of the miracles and becomes a follower herself.

After this the film becomes a reverential straightforward account as you would find in the Bible.

Reverence and revelry, the hallmark of a DeMille film is found in equal measure in The King of Kings. H.B. Warner does a fine job in the lead role, he makes a saintly Jesus. I do wonder what led DeMille to cast Warner, to think of him in the first place. Warner was 52 at the time playing a 30 something Jesus.

The King of Kings offers the movie fan to see father and son Rudolph and Joseph Schildkraut who play Caiaphas and Judas. Both contribute fine performances to the endeavor. Unlike later gospel based films, this one clearly has Caiaphas as the villain of the piece. He's described in the subtitles as a man concerned more with 'revenue than religion' which doesn't make him all that different from some folks I could mention today. The Schildkrauts however were Jewish and stars in the Yiddish Theater in Europe and America. They got good and slammed for their participation in The King of Kings by more than a few of their co-religionists.

Sharp eyed viewers will also note that the guy playing Simon of Cyrene who helps Jesus with his cross is none other than Hopalong Cassidy, William Boyd. Boyd was a DeMille discovery and had previously starred in another DeMille production, The Volga Boatman. This of course was years before he became the idol of the nation's children.

In his autobiography DeMille goes into some detail about how Jeremiah Milbank helped him with the financing of the DeMille Studio from which The King of Kings was produced. After the initial run, Milbank set up a foundation in which prints of The King of Kings were copied and made available to various Christian mission groups free for their work. It's one reason why this particular film is never in any danger of being lost.

DeMille was told on at least one occasion that this was his greatest picture because there is no greater subject. It's arguably one of his best from a technical standpoint. Still for the hundreds of millions of affiliated Christians on the planet, The King of Kings certainly occupies a special place.


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