Wednesday, April 27, 2011

King of Kings vs The Greatest Story Ever Told

TCM ran both films one after the other and I watched both of them while mingling with my family/friends on Easter Sunday. Here's a quick rundown of how they compared:

King of Kings

- Jeffrey Hunter brilliant as Jesus

- Robert Ryan totally miscast as John the Baptist

- Siobhan McKenna wasn't convincing as Mary

- Narration was obtrusive

- Intro was super long. 20+ minutes to get story going

- Because of narration and quick rundown of story, the film felt like bible studies

- Location didn't look like Israel/Middle East. It looked like, well, Spain where it was shot.

- Fantastic score by Miklós Rózsa

- Ending at the beach fell flat

- Studio-bound and looks fake-ish from time to time

- Some beautiful sets and production design

- A bit of a heavy-handedness to it

The Greatest Story Ever Told

- Max Von Sydow totally miscast as Jesus; his voice alone doesn't work

- Claude Rains totally miscast as Herod the Great

- Charlton Heston sounds better than Robert Ryan as John the Baptist but looks ridiculous in fake looking wig and beard

- Almost entire cast is miscast: Telly Savalas as Pontius Pilate?

- Constant use of cameos are terrible; with John Wayne's being the worst

- Narration wasn't obtrusive

- Stunning production design

- Stunning cinematography

- Beautiful, realistic locations

- Direction more fluid and organic

- More realistic looking

- Music score is good but film employs classical music which was beautifully incorporated with story

- Relies on classical music and Michelangelo's paintings to set up scene so a bit of laziness in direction here

- Ending has more impact than King of Kings but still sorta flat

All in all, it's a virtual tie with The Greatest Story Ever Told edging out King of Kings because of stunning production design/cinematography, etc. Now if they combined the best qualities from both films then there would be the perfect film: King of the Greatest Story Ever Told! Posted at the Special Features page.


Anonymous said...

KING OF KINGS!!! by a mile!

Richie D said...


Brenda Faye said...

I agree, King of Kings is the better of the two movies.

Anonymous said...

I agree with almost every comment of the comparison but with the opposite final verdict - I would say King of Kings by a nose…or maybe even by a neck. GSET is more “cinematic” due no doubt to the greatness of its director, George Stevens (one of the best). K of K is more cartoonish in its look, more splashy Hollywood style. But Hunter, despite being ridiculed at the time, is a reverent and striking depiction while VonSydow (although a better actor than Hunter overall) is stiff and stodgy. In most cases, I would agree that recurring narration would normally be intrusive, but, come on, how can you not love hearing Orson Welles! The part I like best of K of K is the inclusion of the fictional character of Lucius. This allows us to see the story of Jesus through the eyes of an unbeliever turned believer. The comparison advocates a version that combines the best elements of both and that would be a great rendition - there is… not a theatrical film but a TV miniseries the 1977 Jesus of Nazareth. Franco Zeffirelli offers a realism and depth of emotion that few directors have and Robert Powell maybe the best Jesus ever on the big or little screen.