This excellent biblical epic was produced by the legendary Samuel Bronston and directed with a skillful mix of spiritual reverence and cinematic imagination by Nicholas Ray. The film covers the 33 years from Jesus Christ's birth in Bethlehem through the Crucifixion, Resurrection and
Ascension. Included are His relationship with John, the 40 days in the desert, the choosing of the Apostles, the Sermon on the Mount, and Judas's betrayal at the Passover seder that was Jesus's Last Supper.
Although Ray Bradbury is not credited, he reportedly wrote the narration spoken by Orson Welles, whose incredible voice and delivery would add dignity and import to dirty limericks. Jeffrey Hunter, not really a major actor, is much more effective than one would expect as Jesus, and Robert Ryan is
excellent as John. Hurd Hatfield, though, who sadly never recovered from his initial amazing impression in THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, goes a bit over the top as Pilate. Other outstanding performances are contributed by Royal Dano, Harry Guardino, Viveca Lindfors and Rip Torn.
KING OF KINGS is an epic of considerable scope, filled with broad vistas, yet there are enough intimate moments to give audience a chance to engage with the characters rather than just admire their pontificating. This is a film where people sweat and labor, and the film, though hardly great, is
much better for it. Credit reasonable and restrained writing by Yordan and Ray's sense of judgment for this one.
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