The King of Kings


Having scored big-time box office with his first Biblical epic, The Ten Commandments (1923), Cecil B. DeMille hoped to top this success with his 1927 The King of Kings. Inasmuch as he was now dealing with the life of Christ, DeMille had to be careful to serve up equal amounts of showmanship and reverence. The first creative challenge: how to "introduce" Christ in a tasteful manner? The answer: as a blind child is cured through Jesus' intervention, DeMille cuts to the child's point-of-view, slowly fading in on the...
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Having scored big-time box office with his first Biblical epic, The Ten Commandments (1923), Cecil B. DeMille hoped to top this success with his 1927 The King of Kings. Inasmuch as he was now dealing with the life of Christ, DeMille had to be careful to serve up equal amounts of showmanship and reverence. The first creative challenge: how to "introduce" Christ in a tasteful manner? The answer: as a blind child is cured through Jesus' intervention, DeMille cuts to the child's point-of-view, slowly fading in on the kindly countenance of H.B. Warner as the Son of Man. Still, DeMille remained DeMille, especially in his handling of the character of Mary Magdalene (Jacqueline Logan). No longer a tattered streetwalker, Mary Magdalene is now a glamorous courtesan, replete with legions of gorgeous slave girls (one of whom is "bubble dancer" Sally Rand) and dressed in revealing Hollywood-style gowns. In fact, the film opens on this character, as she ruminates over the defection of her favorite customer, Judas Iscariot (Joseph Schildkraut), who is spending far too much time with Jesus of Nazareth. Upon visiting Jesus herself, she immediately repents, casting off all her prior sins. Once again, the efficacy of the Cecil B. DeMille formula is proven: redemption has no dramatic value unless the film shows viewers why the sinner needs to be redeemed. Once he's gotten his box-office considerations out of the way, DeMille adheres faithfully to the particulars of Jesus' life, betrayal, trial, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. (Again, however, the director improves a bit upon his source material: the storm that follows the Crucifixion is of the same spectacular dimensions as the parting of the Red Sea in Ten Commandments, while the Resurrection is filmed in vibrant Technicolor). To back up the authenticity of his images, DeMille -- with an assist from scenarist Jeannie Macpherson -- utilizes Scriptural quotes in his subtitles. And to avoid any untoward publicity while filming, DeMille required all of his actors to sign legal documents preventing them from indulging in any sort of "sinful" activity; this meant that poor old H.B. Warner had to steer clear of alcoholic beverages for nearly a year, though he more than made up for lost time after his contract ran out. Prepared to mercilessly lambaste The King of Kings, DeMille's critics were disarmed by his reverent, tasteful approach to the subject. Years after the film's release, a specially prepared 60-minute version of the 18-reel King of Kings was making the rounds of religious groups, church basements, and Easter-weekend telecasts. The film was remade in 1961 by producer Samuel Bronston and director Nicholas Ray, with Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/7/2004
  • UPC: 037429187326
  • Original Release: 1927
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Presentation: B&W / Full Frame
  • Language: English
  • Time: 4:27:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 12,664

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
H.B. Warner Jesus Christ
Dorothy Cumming Mary, the Mother
Ernest Torrence Peter
Joseph Schildkraut Judas Iscariot
James Neill James
Jacqueline Logan Mary Magdalene
Joseph Striker John
Robert Edeson Matthew
Sidney D'Albrook Thomas
David Imboden Andrew
Charles Belcher Philip
Clayton Packard Bartholomew
Robert Ellsworth Simon
Charles Requa James, the Less
John T. Prince Thaddeus
Rudolph Schildkraut Caiaphas, high priest
Sam de Grasse The Pharisee
Casson Ferguson The Scribe
Victor Varconi Pontius Pilate. Governor of Judea
Majel Coleman Proculia, Wife of Pilate
Montagu Love The Roman Centurion
Bill Boyd Simon Of Cyrene
Theodore Kosloff Malchus, Captain of the High Priest's Guard
George Siegmann Barabbas
Josephine Norman Mary Of Bethany
Ken Thomson Lazarus
Alan Brooks Satan
Clarence Burton Dysmas, the Repentant Thief
Dot Farley Maid Servant of Caiaphas
Hector V. Sarno The Galilean Carpenter
Leon Holmes The Imbecile Boy
Jimmie Dime Soldier of Rome
Richard Alexander Soldier of Rome
Budd Fine Soldier of Rome
Tom London Soldier of Rome
James Farley An Executioner
Otto Lederer Eber, a Pharisee
Bryant Washburn A Young Roman
Lionel Belmore A Roman Noble
Monte Collins A Rich Judean
Sojin Prince Of Persia
William Costello A Babylonian Noble
Sally Rand Slave To Mary Magdalene
Noble Johnson A Charioteer
Emily Barrye
Edna Mae Cooper
Kathleen Chambers
Frances Dale
Milla Davenport
Anna de Linsky
Lillian Elliott
Dale Fuller
Evelyn Francisco
Winifred Greenwood
Julia Swayne Gordon
Inez Gomez
Eulalie Jensen
Jane Keckley
Lydia Knott
Alice Knowland
Isabelle Keith
Gertrude Norman
Patricia Palmer
Gertrude Quality
Evelyn Selbie
Barbara Tennant
Jere Austin
Fred Becker
Baldy Belmont
Wilson Benge
Joe Bonomo
Ed Brady
Lucille Brown
William P. Burt
George Calliga
Fred Cavens
Edythe Chapman
Colin Chase
Andre Cheron A Wealthy Merchant
Charles Clary
Josephine Crowell
Malcolm Denny
David Dunbar
Anielka Eller
Julia Faye Martha
Sidney Franklin
Curt Furberg
Bert Hadley
Stanton Heck
Fred Huntley
Brandon Hurst
Edward Lackey
Theodore Lorch
Viola Louie The Woman Taken in Adultery
Bertram Marburgh
James Marcus
George F. Marion
Jim Mason Gestas, the Unrepentant Thief
Muriel McCormac The Blind Girl
Earl Metcalf
Mickey Moore Mark
Louis Natheaux
Richard Neill
Frank O'Connor
Robert Ober
A. Palasthy
Louis Payne
Edward Peil Sr.
Albert Prisco
Herbert Pryor
Hedwiga Reicher
Dick Richards Soldier of Rome
May Robson The Mother of Gestas
Warren Rodgers
Peggy Schaffer
Charles Sellon
Tom Shirley
Walter Shumway
Bernard Siegel
Robert St. Angelo
Charles Stevens
Carl Stockdale
William Strauss
Mark Strong
Josef Swickard
Mabel Van Buren
Will R. Walling
Paul Weigel
Charles West
Stanhope Wheatcroft
Technical Credits
Cecil B. DeMille Director, Producer
Anne Bauchens Editor
Anton Grot Art Director
Mitchell Leisen Production Designer
Jeannie Macpherson Screenwriter
J. Peverell Marley Cinematographer
Harold McLernon Editor
Hugo Riesenfeld Score Composer
F.J. Westerberg Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- The King of Kings: Disc 1
1. Logos/Opening Titles [:27]
2. Prologue [:46]
3. The House of Mary Magdalene [:38]
4. "Take Me to Him" [6:40]
5. Jesus the Great Physician [5:15]
6. Seven Deadly Sins [6:49]
7. House of Caiaphas [6:09]
8. Judas Fails to Heal [3:36]
9. "Follow Me, Matthew" [4:53]
10. "Suffer Little Children" [7:30]
11. The Tomb of Lazarus [2:50]
12. The Adulteress [6:28]
13. At the Temple [2:23]
14. Den of Thieves [6:39]
15. "He Is Our King" [5:02]
16. Thirty Pieces of Silver [5:02]
17. The Last Supper [4:13]
18. The Garden of Gethsemane [2:47]
19. Peter Denies Jesus [7:34]
20. Hall of Judgment [9:22]
21. The Crown of Thorns [4:46]
22. "Crucify Him!" [7:38]
23. The Way of the Cross [4:08]
24. Calvary [9:39]
25. God's Wrath [6:27]
26. The Resurrection [7:26]
27. Color Bars [7:22]
Side #2 -- The King of Kings: Disc 2
1. Logos/Opening Credits [:17]
2. The House of Mary Magdalene [1:35]
3. "Take Me to Him" [6:35]
4. Jesus the Great Physician [4:06]
5. Seven Deadly Sins [6:28]
6. House of Caiaphas [5:55]
7. The Adulteress [2:09]
8. At the Temple [1:56]
9. "Suffer Little Children" [6:18]
10. The Tomb of Lazarus [2:46]
11. Den of Thieves [5:49]
12. "He Is Our King" [4:16]
13. Thirty Pieces of Silver [4:11]
14. The Last Supper [3:51]
15. The Garden of Gethsemane [8:08]
16. Hall of Judgment [8:09]
17. The Crown of Thorns [5:18]
18. "Crucify Him!" [3:13]
19. The Way of the Cross [6:43]
20. Calvary [4:38]
21. God's Wrath [4:36]
22. The Resurrection [5:30]
23. Color Bars [9:44]
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Side #1 -- The King of Kings: Disc 1
   Play the Movie
      Opening Night
         Newspaper Ads
      Original Program
      Press Book
      Blessings From the Clergy
         Index 1
            Mr. Demille's Introductory Remarks
            Dr. George Reid Andrews, Chairman of the Motion Picture Committee, Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America
            Major James Bell, Commanding Officer of the Salvation Army in Los Angeles
            Judge Edmonds, Christian Science
            Dr. Robert Freeman, Pastor of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church
            Rabbi Magnin, B'nai B'rith of Los Angeles
         Index 2
            Dr. J.B. Eobar, Representing the Los Angeles Mohammedan Sect
            Father O'Malley, Priest of St. Vincent's Catholic Cathedral
            Mr. J. Osno, Head of the Local Buddhist Sect
            Bishop W. Stevens, Co-adjuster of the Episcopalian Diocese
            Dr. B.S. Hudson, Pastor of the Temple Baptist Church
            Mr. Demille in Closing
   The Score
      About Sosin
Side #2 -- The King of Kings: Disc 2
   Play the Movie
      Scenes From the Making of the King of Kings
         Behind the Scenes
         Stills Gallery
      Sketches By Dan Sayre Groesbeck
      Portraits By W.M. Mortensen
   The Scores
      Original 1928 Score By Hugo Riesenfeld
         About Riesenfeld
         Riesenfeld on Film Scores
      Alternate 2004 Score By Timothy J. Tikker
         About Tikker
         About the Organ
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