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King of Kings (1961) Poster

(1961)

Trivia

The crucifixion scene had to be re-shot because a preview audience was offended at Jesus having a hairy chest.
Ray Bradbury wrote the narration, but was uncredited.
Jeffrey Hunter was jokingly referred to as "I Was a Teenage Jesus" for his youthful appearance. In reality, he was 35 years old at the time of filming, much closer to Jesus' real age at the time of the story (33 years) than was usual in previous Hollywood treatments. Movie audiences were accustomed to more mature actors portraying Jesus.
After its theatrical run, the film was sold directly to local television stations instead of to the "big three" networks. Even now, the film has still not been shown by NBC, ABC, or CBS - only by local affiliates of the three networks and on cable television.
Franz Planer, the original Director of Photography, suffered a heatstroke during principal photography of the Sermon on the Mount sequence in Spain. This became one of his last films and he passed away only a few years later.
Agnes Moorehead served as Jeffrey Hunter's dialogue coach in post-dubbing.
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This film's narrator, Orson Welles, would later narrate a portion of another Biblical work, The New Media Bible: Book of Genesis (1979). Before narrating this Biblical epic about the King of kings, Welles had earlier portrayed a king himself in another Biblical epic, David and Goliath (1960). Welles would even portray a director directing a Biblical epic in Ro.Go.Pa.G. (1963), when he ironically had earlier directed himself in his own scenes in "David e Golia".
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James Mason turned down the role of Pontius Pilate in this film.
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Due to Jeffrey Hunter's youthful, teen-idol appeal, the film was jokingly referred to within the industry as "I Was a Teenage Jesus" - in imitation of the low-budget teen-audience successes I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957).
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Richard Burton was originally offered the part of Jesus.
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Nicholas Ray considered Keith Michell, Christopher Plummer and Peter Cushing for the role of Christ before signing Jeffrey Hunter. He also expressed an interest in hiring Max von Sydow for the role - Von Sydow, of course, did play play Christ only a few years later in "The Greatest Story Ever Told".
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The film began life as a very personal project for director John Farrow, who had recently made "John Paul Jones" for producer Samuel Bronston. Farrow, an ardent convert to Roman Catholicism and quite possibly the only Hollywood director ever to be made a Papal Knight, called the project "The Sword And The Cross" and planned to use only the words of the Bible for dialogue. His script was deemed impossible to film and producer Bronston elected to proceed without him. Farrow never directed a film again.
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Hurd Hatfield was only cast as Pontius Pilate after a number of British heavyweights had passed on the part.
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The scenes between John the Baptist, Herod, Herodias, and Salome are supposedly based more on Oscar Wilde's play "Salome", than on the Bible, though Salome's grisly behavior as depicted by Wilde is not shown.
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Not only was Jeffrey Hunter's chest hair shaved for the crucifixion scene but his underarms as well.
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Brigid Bazlen still holds the record as youngest Salome in movie history. She was only 16 years old.
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The poster for this film was deliberately meant to resemble the one for Ben-Hur (1959). Both films were MGM releases, though only Ben-Hur was successful at the box office at the time.
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The New York premiere of the film was at the Loew's State Theater.
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Carmen Sevilla's voice was dubbed by an uncredited actress (her real voice can be heard in Spanish Affair (1957)).
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Orson Welles insisted on pronouncing the word 'apostles' with a hard 't'.
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The voice of Luis Prendes, who plays the Good Thief crucified alongside Jesus, was dubbed by another actor.
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Hurd Hatfield (Pontius Pilate) and Viveca Lindfors (Claudia) had appeared together in the original Broadway stage production of "Anastasia". Lindfors played Anna Anderson and Hatfield played Prince Paul.
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Richard Johnson had a role around a hour long which was deleted from the final film.
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Several scenes were directed without credit by Charles Walters.
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Most films at the time did not show Jesus' face, preferring to do shots of his hands (as in Ben-Hur (1959)) or over-the-shoulder views. This was the first large-budget major studio sound film in English to actually show Christ's face.
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The production was photographed in Technirama by Manuel Berenguer, Milton R. Krasner and Franz Planer, and was presented in 70mm Super Technirama at selected first-run engagements. It was the first film of the life of Christ to be presented in 70mm, which was not in use when previous films on the same subject had been made. The previous film version of Christ's life Day of Triumph (1954), had been filmed in standard "spherical" widescreen by much the same people who filmed television's The Living Christ Series (1951).
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King of Kings (1961) date of release, Monday, October 30th, 1961, was 23 years after off-screen narrator, Orson Welles (& other Mercury Theatre Radio station co-workers & members) scared numerous radio listeners, all across the United States of America, of the science-fiction novel written by H.G. Wells, he titled "The War of the Words". Their live CBS radio broadcast occurred on Sunday evening, October 30th, 1938.
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Robert Ryan was keen to work with Nicholas Ray, but was more keen on the payday of $50,000 for just a weeks work.
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Gérard Tichy's voice was dubbed by an uncredited actor.
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Aldo Sambrell's film debut.
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