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The King of Kings Details


Having scored big-time box office with his first Biblical epic, (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 Joseph Schildkraut, 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. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


H.B. Warner
as Jesus Christ
Dorothy Cumming
as Mary, the Mother
Ernest Torrence
as Peter
Joseph Schildkraut
as Judas Iscariot
James Neill
as James
Joseph Striker
as John
Jacqueline Logan
as Mary Magdalene
Robert Edeson
as Matthew
Sidney D'Albrook
as Thomas
David Imboden
as Andrew
Charles Belcher
as Philip
Clayton Packard
as Bartholomew
Charles Requa
as James, the Less
Sam de Grasse
as The Pharisee
Casson Ferguson
as The Scribe
Victor Varconi
as Pontius Pilate. Governor of Judea
Majel Coleman
as Proculia, Wife of Pilate
Montagu Love
as The Roman Centurion
George Siegmann
as Barabbas
Josephine Norman
as Mary Of Bethany
Ken Thomson
as Lazarus
Clarence Burton
as Dysmas, the Repentant Thief
Dot Farley
as Maid Servant of Caiaphas
Leon Holmes
as The Imbecile Boy
Richard Alexander
as Soldier of Rome
Tom London
as Soldier of Rome
James Farley
as An Executioner
Otto Lederer
as Eber, a Pharisee
Bryant Washburn
as A Young Roman
Lionel Belmore
as A Roman Noble
Monte Collins
as A Rich Judean
Noble Johnson
as A Charioteer
Dale Fuller
Winifred Greenwood
Julia Swayne Gordon
Inez Gomez
Eulalie Jensen
Jane Keckley
Lydia Knott
Isabelle Keith
Patricia Palmer
Evelyn Selbie
Fred Cavens
Colin Chase
Josephine Crowell
Bertram Marburgh
Ed Brady
Andre Cheron
as A Wealthy Merchant
Louis Natheaux
Viola Louie
as The Woman Taken in Adultery
Mabel Van Buren
Josef Swickard
Theodore Lorch
George Calliga
Fred Huntley
Fred Becker
Julia Faye
as Martha
Robert Ober
May Robson
as The Mother of Gestas
Paul Weigel
Edythe Chapman
Charles Sellon
Mark Strong
Charles Clary
James Marcus
Sidney Franklin
William Strauss
Brandon Hurst
Bernard Siegel
Wilson Benge
Albert Prisco
Carl Stockdale
Charles Stevens
May Robson
as The Mother of Gestas
Julia Faye
as Martha
Viola Louie
as The Woman Taken in Adultery
Andre Cheron
as A Wealthy Merchant


Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille
Jeannie Macpherson
J. Peverell Marley
Hugo Riesenfeld
Composer (Music Score)
Anne Bauchens
Harold McLernon
Mitchell Leisen
Production Designer
Anton Grot
Art Director