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Nicholas Ray's King of Kings.

Most critics see decline in the last phase of Nicholas Ray's career resulting from his mistaken decision to direct two epics produced by Samuel Bronston. Although Ray's King of Kings (1961) and 55 Days at Peking (1963) receive support from Victor Perkins and Geoff Andrew, others are usually dismissive. (1) When King of Kings premiered, it became designated as just another overblown Biblical epic, labeled "I was a teenage Jesus", and treated according to conventional premises of the "decline and fall" thesis regarding a director's final works as inferior to earlier achievements. King of Kings is not without flaws. But it has been unjustly marginalized in most examinations of Ray's work. Michael Goodwin and Naomi Wise never ask Ray about this film in their otherwise comprehensive interview. Neither does Ray volunteer any information. Bernard Eisenschitz regards it as disappointing. (2) However, while King of Kings is not one of Ray's major achievements, it does contains significant features of authorship, cinematic style, and historical verisimilitude, making it far superior to contemporary counterparts, to say nothing of Mel Gibson's virulent anti-Semitic The Passion of the Christ. (3)

King of Kings differs from the average Hollywood biblical epic. The genre flourished in the silent and early sound era. But the Cold War conservative Imprimatur of "In God We Trust" upon the American body politic during the Eisenhower era used Christianity as a method of social control. This was not just confined to the religious epic. Apart from McCarthyite inspired devotional tracts such as The Next Voice You Hear (1950) and conformist science fiction works involving different types of divine involvements into human affairs such as Red Planet Mars (1952) and The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), declarations of faith also appeared in those hesitant 1950s explorations into social commentary. Martin Ritt's No Down Payment (1957) contains an early scene where Pat Hingle's brattish sons ask him why he does not go to church on Sundays in a manner resembling the Hitler Youth and Parsons's children in George Orwell's 1984. Despite revealing the dark side of suburbia, the film concludes affirmatively with the central characters, squeaky clean Jeffrey Hunter, devoted wife Patricia Owens, and Prodigal Father Pat happily leaving church. Declaring the faith in Hollywood was not just confined to contemporary Biblical epics. Aided by new technologies of Cinemascope and Stereophonic sound, The Robe (1953) and its sequel Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) enabled the bombastic barnstorming vocal delivery of Jay Robinson's camp Caligula to overwhelm the audience, to say nothing of heavenly choruses. The genre simply did not attract directors designated as auteurs by Cahiers du Cinema unless they were inclined to deliberately subvert its premises as Robert Aldrich (and blacklisted screenwriter Hugo Butler) did in The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah (1961). Indirect Marxist elements appeared within a narrative also emphasizing the powerful role of incestuous lesbian Queen Beria (Anouk Aimee) rather than Stewart Granger's moody patriarchal hero Lot.

Nicholas Ray had a difficult task ahead of him in terms of past precedents. He soon faced problems with Samuel Bronston, screenwriter Philip Yordan, and MGM who would refuse him final cut. Cecil B DeMille had filmed an earlier silent 1927 version starring H.B. Warner whom he carefully quarantined away from other actors and technicians between shots who might have disturbed the reverential qualities he wished his star to evoke. Most depictions of the Savior would reveal him as an unearthly presence as in D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916), sometimes depict him from behind, or as an off-screen presence privileged to the reverential gaze of Charlton Heston in William Wyler's Ben Hur (1959). The most cumbersome depiction occurred in George Stevens's The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) starring Ingmar Bergman's Max von Sydow surrounded by a contemporary gallery of "Who's Who in Hollywood" headed by John Wayne's overweight Roman Centurion uttering that unforgettable line "Truly, this was the son of Gawd." By contrast, Ray managed to avoid past and future cliches to direct a film Andrew has aptly described as having "aged considerably better than most biblical epics." (4)

I'm a Stranger Here Myself.

That familiar line spoken by Sterling Hayden in Johnny Guitar (1954), scripted by Philip Yordan, is also relevant to Jeffrey Hunter's Jesus. Bronston originally hoped that John Farrow or John Ford would direct King of Kings under its former title The Man from Nazareth (evoking the title of Anthony Mann's 1955 Western The Man from Laramie also scripted by Yordan). Like Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Ray's hero is an "unearthly stranger." However, his significance stems less from any superior Ubermensch claims for religious adoration but more from his embodiment of peaceful utopian ideals many Ray protagonists attempt but very rarely achieve. Ray's Jesus is a man of peace, a rebel with a cause, but influencing others by humanitarianism rather than divine powers. Unlike characters from In a Lonely Place (1950), Bitter Victory (1957) and Wind across the Everglades (1958) who are incapable of attaining any form of psychological stability, Ray's Messiah incarnates those qualities of harmony and peace temporarily achieved by those doomed lovers in They Live by Night (1948) and finally gained by their more mature counterparts in Party Girl (1958). Jesus also displays those gentle qualities attracting Judy to Jim in Rebel without a Cause (1955). Although suffering fewer contradictions than Jim Stark, this Jesus is also prone to emotions as seen by his "panic attack" (5) in the Garden of Gethsemane and his anger towards Peter/Royal Dano after he witnesses his betrayal outside the High Priest's dwelling. Like Johnny Logan of Johnny Guitar, Jesus wishes to be a man of peace. But he is also prone to dark emotions like Johnny after Turkey's adolescent display of fire power. These parallels illustrate how Ray directs a difficult role. They also reveal his strategy in again making a character believable. As Perkins recognized four decades ago, it is the result of a particular consistency within a certain form of direction involving the "search for the particular truth of each particular situation." (6) This insight also helps explain the appeal of a film not only depicting the most historical representation of the era but also one utilizing a particular type of radical New Testament scholarship often marginalized in mainstream discourses.

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Ray's Search for the Historical Jesus.

Since the beginning of biblical historical scholarship in the late nineteenth century Ernest Renan, Albert Schweitzer, and others engaged on a quest for the historical Jesus hindered both by reliable evidence and the institutional role of the "risen Christ" interpretation first promoted in the Hellenistic world by the former Saul of Tarsus and henceforth accepted as gospel truth. Who was the historical Jesus born as a Jew in first century Palestine under Roman Occupation? Was he different from the figure developed by Paul and his followers? Nicholas Ray's King of Kings presents a human Jesus. His significance parallels a certain tendency of past and present New Testament scholarship either ignored or marginalized,

Ray and Yordan worked on the screenplay with Catholic Oxford Don the Reverend George Kilpatrick who remained on the set during filming. Ray expressed his indebtedness to this scholar in a letter to Samuel Bronston. On March 8, 1960 Bronston gained an audience with Pope John XXIII who approved a script credited to Yordan and Catholic writer Dieggo Fabbri. The latter had written a play that also influenced the character of Ray's Judas who, in the film, becomes not the embodiment of archetypal evil, but a guerilla who believes that Jesus will call on heavenly forces to aid the cause of Jewish independence if forced into a life-threatening situation. (7) King of Kings humanizes Messiah and betrayer placing both within their contemporary social context and making them believable paralleling Perkins's recognition of Ray as a director seeking the "particular truth of each particular situation." The key figure in this construction of Judas may be Nicholas Ray. Judas/Rip Torn resembles the character of Crunch/Frank Mazzola in Rebel without a Cause (1955). Played by the real-life leader of an actual Hollywood gang, Crunch acts in a manner similar to Emma Small/Mercedes McCambridge in Johnny Guitar. Both stir situations for their own advantage. (8) Crunch provokes Buzz/Corey Allen to begin the knife fight with Jim outside the Planetarium and later influences the remaining gang members to go on the vengeance trail following Buzz's accidental death. Judas differs from Crunch in being sincerely mistaken about the Messianic status of Jesus. But he also initiates a tragic situation.

As an Oxford Don, Kilpatrick must have known certain radical interpretations of New Testament scholarship concerning the roots of Christianity opposing the officially approved version influenced by Paul's Hellenistic concept of the "dying and rising God". Manchester University Comparative Religion scholar S.G.F. Brandon (1907-1971) had written a study of New Testament origins, The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian Church (1951), the ideas of which he would later expand in Jesus and the Zealots (1967) and The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth (1968). Brandon's thesis envisaged a vast difference between early Christianity and the later version successfully promoted by Paul who transformed the Jesus of history into a supernatural being. The original Jesus was a politically aware activist working against the contemporary establishment and executed by the Romans for sedition. Although he did not belong to the guerilla Zealot movement, he was sympathetic to their cause and even had one as a disciple - Simon, the Zealot. One interpretation of Judas's surname "Iscariot" derives it from the Latin term "sicarius" (or "dagger man") identifying him as a political assassin. Ray reproduces these ideas in the exchange between Pilate/Hurd Hatfield and Lucius/Ron Randell following the mention of Judean guerilla movements.

Pilate .Who are these men--bandits?

Lucius. They call themselves patriots.

Like Judas, High Priest Caiphas/Guy Rolfe is no archetypal bad guy. He exhibits genuine concern for his people who may be slaughtered by the Romans if another disastrous uprising begins and fear for his fate and others appointed by Rome who would face retaliation as collaborators. "The people have little love for anyone appointed by the Emperor." Following the fall of Jerusalem in A.D 70 and the collapse of Jewish Christianity, Brandon argues that the authors of the four Gospels deliberately obscured the original Jesus and his relationship to national independence movements to prepare the way for acceptance by the wider Gentile world. This also led to two thousand years of anti-Semitism of which Mel Gibson's film is the most recent example.

Brandon was not the first scholar to make such arguments but he was the one who expressed the most radical interpretation of the surviving evidence. Robert Eisler (1882-1949), Hugh J. Schonfield (1901-1988), Hiram Maccoby (1924-2004), and Robert Eisenman reached similar conclusions. Eisenman was instrumental in opening access to previously unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls which reveal that certain ideas appearing in the New Testament were not as unique as previously believed. Eisenman's books, James, the Brother of Jesus: A Higher Critical Evaluation (1999) and The New Testament Code: The Cup of the Lord, the Damascus Covenant, and the Blood of Christ (2006), continue Brandon's arguments. But they use new findings that reveal distinct differences between what may have actually happened and how institutional discourses reinterpreted the evidence.

Ray may not have read Brandon's 1951 study but Kilpatrick could have made him aware of a certain type of biblical scholarship opposing establishment ideas. The director probably incorporated these ideas into his film and developed them in his own particular style and manner.

Unlike most New Testament epics, the film begins with the successful conquest of Palestine under the Roman General Pompey in 63 B.C. The occupying power then sets up the Arabic Herod dynasty as a puppet government in the same way contemporary American foreign policy installed the Diem Regime in South Vietnam and others in Latin America and elsewhere who had no real ethnic and social connections over the people they ruled. Ray's first century Judea is a province desiring liberation from an occupying power, seeking a leader who will achieve cultural and political independence, favoring those who would achieve it by violent methods. Barabbas/Harry Guardino offers one solution: Jesus of Nazareth, another. Ray depicts this contrast by his fire and water symbolism. Jesus and Barabbas reflect opposing characters in Ray films such as Bitter Victory and Wind across the Everglades with the exception now being that one is less flawed than the other. Barabbas belongs to the Zealot movement seeking violent means of independence from Rome. Contemporary historical documents such as the writings of Jewish historian Josephus and the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal that the era desired a Messiah who would achieve religious and political independence from Rome. To Ray's credit, he recognizes Barabbas as a guerilla leader, a rebel with a cause, genuinely seeking the freedom of his people, and not the crude bandit depicted by Anthony Quinn in Richard Fleischer's Barabbas (1962). By contrast, Jesus is no supernatural figure but a man of peace following principles Lucius reports to Pilate after witnessing the Sermon on the Mount. "He spoke of peace, love, and the brotherhood of man." At Jesus's trial before Pilate (meticulously recorded by stenographers in a humorous and ironic reference to Ray's 1949 courtroom drama Knock on any Door), Lucius pleads for the life of a very different Nick Romano figure. "Not once did he speak to incite violence, only peace." However, representing institutional power, Pilate can not allow alternatives to the system and deliberately misrepresents evidence. "Leave everything and follow him? No money for taxes!"

"Look at the eyes! And the ascetic look on the face!"

Ray made these comments seeing Max von Sydow amidst footage of actors he viewed for casting his leading actor. However, Ray chose Jeffrey Hunter. Although Hunter is less ascetic and more human than von Sydow, the eyes still play a key role in the film. But they are due more to Ray's reinterpretation of a visual motif that occurred in his early film noir In a Lonely Place (1950). The film opens with the famous rear mirror view shot of Dixon Steele's eyes as he drives through the alienating Los Angeles urban landscape. When Steele/Humphrey Bogart later recreates the murder of a victim, Ray lights up his eyes of characters in certain scenes. Here they are less sinister. They illustrate the powers of imagination but Ray now uses them in a very different manner. Although MGM drastically re-edited King of Kings, the final version does contain surviving traces of Ray's various attempts of making this film a unique exercise in imagination and perception emphasizing the role of mind over matter. Certain surviving scenes suggest that Ray attempted one of the most searching examinations of the power of imagination ever to have appeared so far on the screen in any religious epic. Ray humanizes his Savoir and suggests that imagination plays a more powerful role in religious perception than any concept of supernatural reality. Jesus' encounters with John the Baptist/Robert Ryan illustrate these ideas in King of Kings.

John's baptism in King of Kings deliberately contradicts standard New Testament accounts. The heavenly voice pronouncing "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased" does not occur. Neither does the heavenly dove. Instead, Jesus' entry into the sequence is low-key. It is certainly no "star entrance" in either Hollywood or Biblical senses of the term. John suddenly discovers Jesus waiting in line and never even baptizes him. Ray articulates a particular type of cinematic recognition, not without levels of ambiguity, utilizing an interchange of close-ups concentrating on the eyes of both figures. Is he or isn't he? By selecting an actor well-known for his portrayal of insecure males in Hollywood cinema (rather than Charlton Heston in the Stevens version) to play John, Ray introduces doubt into the narrative as to whether this Savoir is divine or merely an ordinary man who makes an influential impression on other people that may not be heavenly at all. Due to the baggage of the religious epic and MGM's later re-editing, Ray can not make this tension fully explicit. Nevertheless traces do exist within the surviving version.

Perkins notices the important role of the gaze both in King and Kings and the rest of the director's work. "Throughout any Ray movie one finds a complete mastery of the--often contradictory--action which expresses more than it does, the ability to convey an idea through a gesture, a hesitation, a movement of the eyes. Much of the meaning of King of Kings is contained in its intricate pattern of looking, glaring and staring. Salome's motivations are revealed almost entirely in these terms." (9)

An exchange of looks occurs between Jesus and Lucius during the request to see the imprisoned John. Jesus tells Lucius "You are a prisoner because you place your faith in the sword." Ray next demonstrates John's awareness of Jesus's presence by a shadow on the floor. This shadow imagery is important because it occurs during other parts of the film, often significantly during deliberately underplayed miracle sequences, as if suggesting the power of mind over matter; a power associated more with wish-fulfillment than supernatural agency. It is not accidental that King of Kings never displays the most astonishing examples of Christ's miracles such as the feeding of the multitude with five loaves and two fishes and walking on the water. Instead, they are mentioned in a report Lucius reads to Pilate implying that they are based on dubious sources. Pilate's response--"I never heard such absolute nonsense"--is probably shared by Ray himself. In King of Kings, "seeing is believing." But what Ray shows is not supernatural. As John climbs up the wall of his cell to ask for Jesus's blessing, a light falls on his face. It evokes that harsh light falling on Dixon Steele's face in the famous scene from in a Lonely Place causing his audience to question whether what he tells is truth or fiction. Prior to his execution and his doubt concerning Jesus after a message he relays via Lucius ("Art thou he that cometh or should we look for another?"), John hears Jesus's voice off-screen affirming his belief. This time Jesus is not present. But the scene strongly suggests that John convinces himself of the truth by the force of his own mind. Like most scenes in the film, the depiction is not supernatural but displayed in an ambiguous manner. Has John convinced himself like those fortunate recipients of Jesus's healing embodying the operation of mind over matter? Agency may be the result of untapped human potential rather than any intrusive form of external supernatural intervention.

The scene resembles the earlier warning to Joseph leading to the escape into Egypt. We never hear the message nor does it need the presence of a heavenly angelic body since Joseph discovers it from a dream and dreams do not necessarily reproduce everyday concepts of reality. Jesus can also read the minds of those around him, even Judas. Before the Last Super, he tells his betrayer, "What you must do, do quickly." Ray here uses a choker close-up similar to the one he earlier used in They Live by Night to depict the grotesque face of Chicamaw/Howard Da Silva. Both characters are violent men. Ray also downplays the usual depiction of the temptation in the wilderness filming it in such a manner that it resembles a hallucination on the part of Jesus. The offer of "all the kingdoms of the earth" occurs in imagery deliberately evoking a mirage. Is Jesus the Son of God or a deluded character? King of Kings anticipates the thesis of The Passover Plot (1965) by Hugo J. Schonfield that suggested the Crucifixion was part of an attempt by Jesus to fulfill contemporary Messianic expectations but the plan went disastrously wrong. Caiaphas's remark, "In my opinion, this man seeks martyrdom", indirectly supports this idea. Ray directs King of Kings suggestively, leaving it open for each viewer to make their own interpretations.

Bigger than Life

Despite its generic associations, King of Kings is as hybrid as Ray's other films. It is not surprising that he also incorporates his version of the Hollywood melodrama into this film. As in They Live by Night and Rebel without a Cause, Ray juxtaposes his idealistic version of the family with its negative social counterpart. As a product of his era Ray hopes that the institution may work but his creative sensibilities intuitively recognize such hopes are often futile. Darkness surrounds Bowie and Keechie at the end of They Live by Night. Rebel's conclusion offers no explicit guarantee that Jim and Judy will not eventually end up like their parents. In King of Kings Ray depicts his idyllic family in the form of Mary/Siobhan McKenna and Jesus as a relationship between equals rather than any hierarchical patriarchal one. When Mary Magdalene/Carmen Sevilla visits the home of Jesus, the former "woman taken in adultery" receives a gentle welcome rather than being regarded as a sexual threat to her son. Mother Mary (whose "Virgin" status is thankfully ignored in this film) is no Mrs. Bates of Psycho. She welcomes Mary Magdalene as surrogate daughter and companion. By contrast, the court of King Herod represents a nightmare version of the typical family of Hollywood melodrama whose aberrations Ray had earlier explored in Bigger than Life (1956). Herod Antipas (Frank Thring) is Ray's Biblical version of Ed Avery. He eagerly waits for the time when he can displace his father and gain royal power. Once enthroned, he seduces his brother's wife and incestuously lusts after her daughter Salome. Salome/Brigid Bazlen is the juvenile delinquent in this royal family who plays on her stepfather's lustful desires to gain the head of John the Baptist as if seeking a new toy. She is also the film's "rebel without a cause." Her dance is no accomplished performance, similar to Vicki's routines in Party Girl (1958), but rather a petulant display of adolescent seductiveness manipulating patriarchal lust as well as sexually challenging her mother Herodias/ Rita Gam. Antipas's line emphasizes this. "Come and sit next to me and I will give you the throne of your mother." Salome represents a dark version of the early Judy in Rebel without a Cause. Unable to renegotiate her oedipal feelings, she achieves what Judy escapes: sleeping with Father. During this sequence, Ray uses both a birdcage to symbolize Salome's dangerous self-willed entrapment as well as the sound of a bird which occurs when she asks for the head of John the Baptist. It is as ominous as the sound of the train whistle that heralds Bowie's doom in They Live by Night. The audience later sees her in a regressive catatonic position next to a birdcage. As well as depicting remorse for John's death, Ray also suggests that she has become a victim of incestuous child abuse. By contrast, Herodias stands by Herod's side in a slit-legged costume resembling a Biblical Cyd Charisse awaiting her next competitive "invitation to the dance" of family sexual politics. Pilate and Claudia/Viveca Lindfors constantly bicker. Like Col. Thursday in Fort Apache (1948), he complains to her about his posting to an undesirable territory and Ray suggests that his order to execute Jesus has little to do with political reasons and more with his jealous resentment of a rival. "He is different. He refuses to behave like others. And if he can influence even Caesar's daughter he is dangerous." Both Pilate and Antipas are often seen together more at ease in their own company than with their respective families.

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Is He or Isn't He?

King of Kings indicts society and its institutions as much as They Live by Night, Knock on any Door, In a Lonely Place, On Dangerous Ground (1951), The Lusty Men (1952), Johnny Guitar, Run for Cover (1954), Hot Blood (1956), Wind Across the Everglades, and The Savage Innocents (1960). Like these films, King of Kings presents its own problematic search for an alternative community. The film really works when emphasis falls upon Jesus as a human person with the capacity to inspire others as well as those occasions where miracles result from his evoking healing qualities dormant within the human mind. But King of Kings belongs to a specific genre and can not entirely avoid its associated supernatural overtones. Where such instances occur, they are probably due either to MGM re-editing or insistence on further shooting such as that that clumsy scene where Mary encounters the resurrected Jesus. It would have been far better to eliminate that badly acted encounter since it undermines the deliberate ambivalence existing in the rest of the film. Ray implicitly evokes audience skepticism concerning the nature of the actual events and also suggests that many characters actively engage in wish-fulfillment rather than experience divine intervention. Jesus may also be mistaken about his divine significance. King of Kings documents the era's desire for a leader but it also shows that Ray's Jesus of Nazareth defied contemporary expectations for a violent Messiah. Instead Jesus removes the Twelve Disciples from the temptations of society and instructs them outside civilization before the entry into Jerusalem. Lucius explains his decision to remain in Judea long after the expiration of his tour of duty to Pilate. "Where else would I go ... Society would destroy me." Like Jesus, Lucius could also say, "I'm a Stranger here myself" Despite his occupation and the violent acts society has forced him into performing, Lucius has deep humanitarian instincts. He allows Jesus to survive the Massacre of the Innocents a decade later when he discovers that he escaped. This scene ironically follows the attempt by a rich merchant (George Coulouris) to employ the young Jesus. Fortunately, his parents do not resemble the dysfunctional family of Charles Foster Kane who exile their son into the capitalist world of Mr. Thatcher in Citizen Kane (1941). King of Kings also displays Ray's method of dualistic relationships. But unlike Bitter Victory and Wind across the Everglades, King of Kings contains parallels between more than two characters such as Jesus, Lucius, Judas, and Barabbas.

Although Ray never shot the last scene of King of Kings, the depiction complements his intentions to undermine the usual generic conclusion of a religious movie. Surprisingly, the risen Christ is never seen. Instead, an off-screen voice occurs sends the disciples on their mission. This may all be happening in their minds. It also resembles the final revelation to John the Baptist prior to his death where Jesus is never seen. A huge shadow falls across the sand forming a Cross as it passes a huge fishing net on the shore. Although the imagery is religious, the Sea of Galilee is in the background of the frame symbolizing a positive resolution earlier suggested by the water imagery occurring in the final shot of Johnny Guitar where Johnny and Vienna finally leave a violent society. It reveals the victory of the life-affirming water symbolism defining Jesus rather than the fire evoking the violent methods of Barabbas and Judas. King of Kings concludes positively in the present time of the film where Utopian hopes exist for peace and harmony. It never looks towards a future where later institutional discourses and practices pervert those progressive elements characterizing the original message of Jesus of Nazareth. King of Kings suggests that such humanitarian qualities are still possible to realize but only outside a social order whose institutional attempts to corrupt everybody before, during, and after Jesus's life are sadly well known. Although King of Kings was "atrociously edited", falling far short of achieving those unique creative elements Jean Mitry defined as the essence of cinema in his The Aesthetics and Psychology of the Cinema (1963), it is nonetheless a Nicholas Ray film deserving further evaluation.

I'd like to thank my Spring Semester 2008 Nicholas Ray class for their excellent essays and the inspiration they have given me towards writing this article.

Tony Williams is Professor and Area Head of Film Studies at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale whose most appropriate attitude to academia is Nick Ray's "I'm a Stranger here myself."

Notes

(1.) Victor Perkins, "The Cinema of Nicholas Ray." Movie Reader. Ed. Ian Cameron. London: November Books, 64-70, especially pp. 69, 70; Geoff Andrew, The Films of Nicholas Ray: The Poet of Nightfall. New Edition. London: British Film Institute, 2004, 141-145, 176-177.

(2.) Michael Wise and Naomi Goodwin, "Nicholas Ray: Rebel," Take One 5.6 (1977): 7-21; Bernard Eisenschitz, Nicholas Ray: An American Journey. Translated by Tom Milne, London: Faber and Faber, 1993, 360-376. Listing Ray's undisputable 18 masterpieces, Jonathan Rosenbaum states that there are "potent stretches in most of the others, including even King of Kings." See "Nicholas Ray. Great Directors." http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/02/raynick.html.

(3.) Popularly known as "The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre" and responsible for evoking anti-Semitic feelings at the time of its release, paralleling the manner in which D.W.Griffith's The Birth of the Nation (1915) boosted the fortunes of the Ku Klux Klan earlier, this film has received little historical analysis. For one notable exception see David Walsh, "The Passion of the Christ." World Socialist Web Site: Arts Review, http://www.wsws.org/articles/

(4.) Andrew, 177.

(5.) This term was used by a student in a final paper for my Spring semester class on Nicholas Ray.

(6.) Perkins, 65.

(7.) See Eisenschitz, 363-364.

(8.) See Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel, Live Fast, Die Young: The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without A Cause. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005, 62-68.

(9.) Perkins, 65. Blaine Allen also notes that the encounters with John and the skeptical figure of Lucius "are constructed through exchanges of looks. Characters being conscious of each other, and reinforce the level of the interpersonal and the physical." See Nicholas Ray: A Guide to References and Resources. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1984, 33. In his Movie interview Ray complained that King of Kings was "atrociously edited" with a lot of material cut out: "Claudia and Lucius having an almost telepathic relationship." See "Interview with Nicholas Ray." Movie 9 (1963): 23.
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Author:Williams, Tony
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Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 22, 2009
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