As you might guess from prior posts in my “religion” category, I don’t celebrate Easter with much enthusiasm, at least not of the religious sort. I did, however, watch King of Kings, a 1961 Technicolor™ film about the life of Jesus from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This is not the best film ever, but good enough to be an Easter classic. Plus, it contains juggling.
While watching it, the acting, sets and flavor immediately reminded me of “a comedy 3000 years in the making”. Mostly, though, I realized I can never watch anything containing Jesus or Romans without thinking of the Life of Brian (from which the title of this post comes). I mean, even the marquees of these two movies are similar:
The casting in King of Kings is a bit more interesting, however. (Maybe it was watching too many episodes of “Rome” back to back, but I kept wondering who in the cast was sleeping with who.) Orson Welles did the voice overs (which were apparently written by Ray Bradbury). Judas is played by a nearly unrecognizable (at least to me) Rip Torn. For some reason, this movie also more or less ended the short career of the surprisingly hot Brigid Bazlen, whose performance as Salome evidently drew an extremely vitriolic response from the critics at the time. (There is a story in there somewhere.) Through most of the film however, I was troubled by the semi-crazed, yet familiar look of the actor playing the white, blue-eyed Jesus. It was a pretty good performance, and something about how they shot it made him look beyond human most of the time, but I couldn’t quite place him until about halfway through. He was Jeffrey Hunter, who played the very first captain of the Enterprise, Christopher Pike. It’s not quite the same: