The Gospel Truth

By John King Tarpinian: Jesus has a sci-fi link.

The director of the movie, King of Kings (1961), Nicholas Rey was having problems with the script. This is the movie with the definitive blonde-haired blue-eyed Jesus. That was Jeffrey Hunter, who would go on to play the original captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Captain Pike. In the early 60s Ray Bradbury did side-work as a Script Doctor and was called in to help. Ray was first told that they did not have an ending for the movie.  Ray’s response being, “Have you read the book?”

He wrote the ending that they pretty much used. Only Ray wanted an overhead shot showing J.C. walking onto the Sea of Galilee while the disciples were walking off onto the points of the compass to spread “the word.”  Renting the crane for the overhead shot was “too expensive” so the scene was modified and shot at ground level.

They knew they had other problems with the script but had no money for any reshooting of scenes.  Ray suggested they use a voice-over narration. They liked the idea and asked him to write the dialog, which he did.

Now they had another problem, they needed a powerful voice actor to read the narration. Ray suggested his friend, Orson Welles. After choking on their own spittle they said they did not have the money to pay Welles. Ray said he’d ask Orson to do it for scale, which Welles did. Orson had played Father Mable in Ray’s script of Moby Dick for John Huston.

This part I do not quite understand but for Ray’s and Orson’s names to appear in the credits they had to be paid another stipend. Not having the money the producers opted to not credit them. So if you watch the film over the weekend this story might be more entertaining than the one they filmed. One of the grand old men of science fiction and the writer/producer/director of what many argue is the best movie of all time are unsung heroes of King of Kings.

3 thoughts on “The Gospel Truth

  1. Mike pointed out that I left out a minor Sci-Fi refrence. That H.G. Wells ‘War of the Worlds’ radio play that Orson did which caused a scare or two.

  2. Another sci-fi link for the 1961 “King of Kings” — Judas Iscariot was played by Rip Torn, whose later movie credits include the title character’s double-dealing frenemy in “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, high priest/sorcerer Maax in “The Beastmaster”, an evil corporation president in “Robocop 3” and Chief Zed in the first two “Men in Black” movies.

  3. I see your Rip Torn and raise you Royal Dano who was in Spaced Invaders, Ghoulies II, Killer Clowns from Outer Space, The Right Stuff, Night Gallery, The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, Something Wicked This Way Comes and a few more 🙂

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