The first part tells the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, his receipt of the tablets and the worship of the golden calf. The second part shows the efficacy ... See full summary »
Cecil B. DeMille
Charles de Rochefort,
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
When the blind girl gets pulled through the window, she is wearing modern underwear. See more »
In the original premiere version, there is no 'THE END' title. The film fades to black after the final scene of Jesus looming over a modern city with the title 'LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS' superimposed. See more »
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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