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The King of Kings

The King of Kings

H.B. Warner
Director: Cecil B. DeMille Cast: H.B. Warner
H.B. Warner
, Dorothy Cumming
Dorothy Cumming
, Ernest Torrence
Ernest Torrence
Cecil B. DeMille

DVD (B&W / Full Frame)

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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.

Product Details

Release Date: 12/07/2004
UPC: 0037429187326
Original Release: 1927
Rating: NR
Source: Criterion
Presentation: [B&W, Full Frame]
Time: 4:27:00

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
Robert Edeson Matthew
Sidney D'Albrook Thomas
Joseph Striker John
Charles Belcher Philip
Clayton Packard Bartholomew
David Imboden Andrew
Charles Requa James, the Less
Robert Ellsworth Simon
Rudolph Schildkraut Caiaphas, high priest
Sam de Grasse The Pharisee
Casson Ferguson The Scribe
John T. Prince Thaddeus
Victor Varconi Pontius Pilate. Governor of Judea
Montagu Love The Roman Centurion
Majel Coleman Proculia, Wife of Pilate
Bill Boyd Simon Of Cyrene
Theodore Kosloff Malchus, Captain of the High Priest's Guard
Josephine Norman Mary Of Bethany
George Siegmann Barabbas
Alan Brooks Satan
Ken Thomson Lazarus
Dot Farley Maid Servant of Caiaphas
Hector V. Sarno The Galilean Carpenter
Clarence Burton Dysmas, the Repentant Thief
Leon Holmes The Imbecile Boy
Richard Alexander Soldier of Rome
Budd Fine Soldier of Rome
Tom London Soldier of Rome
Otto Lederer Eber, a Pharisee
Sally Rand Slave To Mary Magdalene
Jimmie Dime Soldier of Rome
Bryant Washburn A Young Roman
Sojin Prince Of Persia
Monte Collins A Rich Judean
James Farley An Executioner
May Robson The Mother of Gestas
Noble Johnson A Charioteer
Lionel Belmore A Roman Noble
Andre Cheron A Wealthy Merchant
Muriel McCormac The Blind Girl
Jim Mason Gestas, the Unrepentant Thief
William Costello A Babylonian Noble
Dick Richards Soldier of Rome
Julia Faye Martha
Viola Louie The Woman Taken in Adultery
Mickey Moore Mark
Emily Barrye Actor
Eulalie Jensen Actor
Julia Swayne Gordon Actor
Jane Keckley Actor
Louis Natheaux Actor
Evelyn Selbie Actor
Isabelle Keith Actor
Frances Dale Actor
Lillian Elliott Actor
Tom Shirley Actor
Evelyn Francisco Actor
Edna Mae Cooper Actor
Lydia Knott Actor
Colin Chase Actor
Fred Cavens Actor
Milla Davenport Actor
Anna de Linsky Actor
Stanhope Wheatcroft Actor
Kathleen Chambers Actor
Edythe Chapman Actor
Dale Fuller Actor
George Calliga Actor
Winifred Greenwood Actor
Fred Becker Actor
Inez Gomez Actor
Mark Strong Actor
Charles West Actor
Will R. Walling Actor
Walter Shumway Actor
William Strauss Actor
Jere Austin Actor
George F. Marion Actor
Alice Knowland Actor
Richard Neill Actor
Josef Swickard Actor
Lucille Brown Actor
Patricia Palmer Actor
Gertrude Quality Actor
Frank O'Connor Actor
Baldy Belmont Actor
Charles Sellon Actor
Wilson Benge Actor
Gertrude Norman Actor
Earl Metcalf Actor
A. Palasthy Actor
Barbara Tennant Actor
Theodore Lorch Actor

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

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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