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Thursday, September 26, 2013

The King Of Kings (1927)

The man known as Jesus Christ (H.B. Warner) is a threat to the power ..... well, why go any further. You all know the story. Cecil B. DeMille's epic tale of the last weeks of Christ's life before his crucifixion is an over reverent, crudely made but dramatically effective rendering. Using mainly quotations from the Bible as intertitles, DeMille manages to be both tiresomely pompous and extravagantly entertaining. While the basic story itself is so overly familiar that there's not much one can do with it or to it, DeMille spruces it up with a little technique. There are two eye opening two strip Technicolor sequences, the opening at luxurious apartments of Mary Magdalene (Jacqueline Logan) and the Easter resurrection. Some nicely done touches like the casting off of the seven deadly sins from Mary Magdalene or the dropping of the thirty pieces of silver as payment to Judas (Joseph Schildkraut, DIARY OF ANNE FRANK) keep the film from slipping over to tedium (which it only does so at the very end). Still, it is a DeMille epic and the massive earthquake on Mount Calvary during the crucifixion is so over the top that one can't help but chortle. I saw the original 2 hours and 37 minutes roadshow cut but there's also a shorter version (by 45 minutes) that may appeal more to the less patient. With Dorothy Cumming as Mary, Rudolph Schildkraut as Caiaphas and Ernest Torrence as Peter.

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