"Day of Triumph", a low-budget, church-sponsored film about the life of Christ, was the first Technicolor, English-speaking sound film in which one actually saw and heard an actor playing Jesus Christ (whose face was never shown in such films as "Ben-Hur" or "The Robe".) Once shown on TV annually, it now seems even worse than ever. Filmed on cheesy-looking sets, "Day of Triumph" features unknown Robert Wilson as a Jesus who looks like somebody made up for a small town religious pageant. His performance is completely forgettable and makes Jeffrey Hunter in "King of Kings" look like Laurence Olivier (not that Hunter was bad at all in "King of Kings"; in fact he was quite good; he just wasn't an Olivier).
Noted actor Lee J.Cobb, who gets more screen time than anyone as Zarok, confidant of Judas, and a sort of well-meaning high priest, makes a heroic effort under the circumstances, demonstrating how a great actor can bring class to a religious film that looks and sounds like a cheap B-movie. Judas is played like a villain in a silent melodrama (his "I have sinned!" after his realization that Christ is to be crucified takes first prize for melodramatic overacting) and everyone else is just plain bland. One wonders what director Irving Pichel could have been thinking.
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