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King of Kings (1961)

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The temporary physical life of the Biblical Savior, Jesus Christ.

Director:

Nicholas Ray

Writer:

Philip Yordan (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeffrey Hunter ... Jesus
Siobhan McKenna ... Mary
Hurd Hatfield ... Pontius Pilate
Ron Randell ... Lucius
Viveca Lindfors ... Claudia
Rita Gam ... Herodias
Carmen Sevilla ... Mary Magdalene
Brigid Bazlen ... Salome
Harry Guardino ... Barabbas
Rip Torn ... Judas
Frank Thring ... Herod Antipas
Guy Rolfe ... Caiaphas
Royal Dano ... Peter
Robert Ryan ... John The Baptist
Edric Connor Edric Connor ... Balthazar
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Storyline

The story of the life of Jesus Christ from his birth in Bethlehem to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Filmed on a relatively grand scale, the film includes all of the major events referred to in the New Testament; his baptism by John the Baptist; the miracles - cripples walking, blind men seeing; the fishes and the loaves; and so on. The film actually begins with the Roman invasion by Pompey in 65 B.C., the appointment of King Herod the Great by the Romans and finally the crowning of Herod Antipas after he murders his father. The revolt led by Barrabas is also included and John the Baptist's beheading as Salome's price for dancing for Herod. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most exciting human drama the screen has ever told. A story of the Christ, His life, His deeds, the inspiration of His spoken words. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violent content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 October 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Samuel Bronston's Production King of Kings See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,037,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,483,352

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$25,000,000, 31 January 1989
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| Mono (35 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jeffrey Hunter was jokingly referred to as "I Was a Teenage Jesus" for his youthful appearance. In reality, he was 33 years old at the time of filming, Jesus' age at the time of His death and resurrection. Movie audiences were accustomed to more mature actors portraying Jesus. See more »

Goofs

At the Last Supper, when Peter says he would die for Jesus rather than deny him, Jesus tells him that before the "..cock crows twice, you will deny me thrice." (In that scene, Peter denies Him a 3rd time, and the cock then crows a second time.) The Gospels tell us that the correct statement is "...before the cock crows, you will deny me thrice." See more »

Quotes

John the Baptist: [to Lucius, who is visiting him in his prison cell] You treated me well. I should like to ask just one more kindness.
Lucius: Ask.
John the Baptist: Before I leave this world, I would send a message to Jesus.
Lucius: What is the message?
John the Baptist: Ask of Him, in these words, "Was it Your coming that was foretold, or are we to expect another?"
Lucius: You doubt Him?
John the Baptist: No. I do not doubt Him. But I would like to hear it from His own lips.
[Lucius then unshackles John, who looks at him with appreciation]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Llámale Jess (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Lo, I Am With You"
12 February 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

A few years earlier than George Stevens mammoth all star film about the life of Jesus was this film by Nicholas Ray. Taking, it's title from the Cecil B. DeMille silent film, this version of King of Kings is in no way a remake of the DeMille epic. This King of Kings is a moving reverential account of the life of the obscure carpenter from Galilee whose thoughts still move millions today. The voice you hear doing the narration bridging of the various episodes of Jesus's life is the familiar one of Orson Welles.

Nicholas Ray shot this film in Spain with the broad central plain serving as Judea in the early years of AD. Unlike Stevens, Nicholas Ray used second line players for the most part, the biggest name in the cast is that of Robert Ryan as John the Baptist.

Jesus is played by Jeffrey Hunter and if you were to ask today's movie fans what they most remember about Hunter, they will either say his role in the original Star Trek pilot as Captain Christopher Pike, or his two roles in John Ford films, The Searchers and Sergeant Rutledge. Some reviewers have remarked about Hunter's blue eyes, personally I think Nicholas Ray might have cast Hunter with those baby blues to mark Jesus as indeed unique among the populace of Judea. In any event it's a sincere portrayal that Hunter gives. He's most effective in the Sermon on the Mount scene.

King of Kings takes a great deal more liberties with the four Gospels than does the Greatest Story Ever Told. It fleshes out the peripheral characters in the Bible giving them more identity than Scripture does. Barabbas as played by Harry Guardino is a guerrilla leader rather than a bandit and Rip Torn who is Judas is one of his associates who leaves Barabbas after the Sermon on the Mount.

Judas's motives for betrayal are explained as an effort to force Jesus's hand. He wants Jesus to use his power of miracles to aid in the freedom fight against Rome. I think most people view Judas as doing what he did because he totally failed to understand the mission and nature of who he was following, What Ray does here is deepen that context.

There are a few scenes in their besides this part of the storyline that are not biblically found. After Jesus saves Mary Magdalene, Carmen Sevilla as Mary goes searching for him and visits with Mary his mother who is played by Siobhan McKenna. They talk for a bit, McKenna describes some of the miracles attributed to her son.

Jesus himself drops out of biblical dialog in a scene where he asks to visit John the Baptist. The scene is with the Centurion Lucius who was present at the massacre in Bethlehem and later would pronounce His epitaph at the cross. Ron Randell plays Lucius and his Lucius is a world weary professional soldier, sickened by the court of Herod the Great and his successor Herod Antipas. He hates having to serve these people because Rome is backing them as surrogate leaders. Randell has a key role here, he serves as a prototype for the gentiles who Jesus says his disciples must minister to.

Being inveterate star gazer I am, I do like The Greatest Story Ever Told better. But King of Kings is still a fine retelling of that selfsame story.


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