King of Kings (1961) (BD) [Blu-ray]
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Samuel Bronston, a producer whose production center was located outside of Madrid, envisioned a shorter movie along the artistic lines of "The Gospel According to St. Matthew," simple and reverent. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer saw the movie as a threat to its' current blockbuster hit, "Ben-Hur." Bronston needed some additional financial backing and MGM stepped in, so that the release could be delayed until after "Ben-Hur" was finished with its' usual one year playing engagement. At the same time, the tremendous audience response to the spectacle of "Ben-Hur" convinced MGM to expand the film and make it more spectacular. At least an additional 45 minutes was tacked on the planned running time.
I find the film a great success. By giving us the political milieu, it provides us a different slant on the well-known story and invokes interest with sub-plots.
Jeffrey Hunter took a lot of unnecessary abuse for his portrayal. This was the first portrayal of Jesus by an actor who was around the same age as Christ during the events, but he was criticized as too young (???). His piercing blue eyes added a sharp edge to his appearance, making him symbolically stand out as unique. He depicted an accessible Jesus. This was certainly in evidence during the Sermon on the Mount scene. In no other movie, I feel, does Jesus come down off the lofty pedestal and talk directly to you.Read more ›
Produced by many of the people responsible for 'Ben Hur', the film utilizes some of the same sets, actors (Frank Thring appears in major roles in both films), and composer (Miklos Rozsa, whose score for 'King of Kings' was one of his finest). The cast was fleshed out by respected actors (Robert Ryan is too old but charismatic as John the Baptist, Siobhan McKenna is a glowing Mary, Brigid Bazlen, a deliciously wicked and oversexed Salome, Harry Guardino, an 'over-the-top' Barabbas, a VERY young Rip Torn scores as Judas). While the cast didn't have the 'star power' of 'Ben Hur', or many other Christian epics, the actors, by and large, perform credibly in their roles, particularly Hurd Hatfield and Viveca Lindfors, as Pilate and his wife, Claudia, and Ron Randell as Tribune Lucius.
The film was a MUCH less expensive project than 'Ben Hur'; the budget restraints show most glaringly in recreating Jesus' ministry (most of Christ's miracles are only referred to, not shown), and extras casting (Spanish townspeople, overdubbed with some truly RIPE dialogue!).
The film works best when focusing on Jesus; unfortunately, it veers off into distracting subplots about Barabbas and the zealots, and the decadence of Herod's court. These stories consume a LOT of screen time, and damage the overall impact of the film.
Yet rising above all this is Jeffrey Hunter's interpretation of the Savior.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful film for the time period in which it was made. The late Jeffrey Hunter Beautifully portrayed Christ and I will never forget his expressive eyes!Published 10 hours ago by Amazon Customer
I believe Jeffrey Hunter played a very good version of Jesus in this movie!Published 6 days ago by Janice Evans
Beautiful story of life of Jesus even though some is fictionalPublished 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
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