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GREAT FLOORS

Samuel Bronston’s epics have one irrefutable virtue—great floors. And the pičce de résistance could be the one used for Herod’s palace in King of Kings: in a mosaic of red, black and yellow, it’s a spectacular scene-stealer. The only other attributes in this movie are Ron Randell and his hair—simply the sexiest Roman and Roman cut ever to grace a togafest. Blue-eyed Jeffrey Hunter goes gooey-passive as Jesus, but if you’re acting against Frank Thring in a beard of gray curls, you need whatever it takes as antidote. (No lover of hardtickets could ever buy into the absurdity that Thring, as Herod Antipas, would have sweaty lust for the weaker sex.) Siobhan McKenna is a few decades too old to play a pregnant Mary. With a load of overly familiar contemporaries—Robert Ryan, Hurd Hatfield, Harry Guardino, Royal Dano and Rip Torn, all of whom look like they’re doing penance. Viveca Linfors and Rita Gam are in too many coneheaded hairdos and headsets and Spanish diva Carmen Sevilla dubbed to irrelevance. Gregoire Aslan’s Herod is somewhat like John Barrymore coming back as Tom Baker’s Rasputin from Nicholas and Alexandra. Directed by Nicholas Ray; music by Miklós Rozsa; murals by Maciek Piotrowski; the narration reportedly written by Ray Bradbury and without credit recited by Orson Welles, whose voice you begin to miss when not heard. No Oscar nominations, but the big winner at the 1961 Harvard Lampoon honors: Worst movie (tied with Troy Donahue’s Parrish); Worst Supporting Actor (Ryan); Worst All-Around Performance By a Cast in Toto; and The Greatest Setback to Christianity Since The Robe. In SUPER TECHNIRAMA 70. (Opening 10/18/1961 at the Michael Todd, running 18 weeks.)

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.