Record #369

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Reel 3
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Producers Distributing Corporation - King of Kings

There is a large volume of material relating to King of Kings. On the one hand, Christian organizations are convinced that it's the greatest film ever made, and some of their letters recommending it to their members are included. On the other hand, the Jews think it is insulting and dangerous, and likely to ferment violent anti Jewish sentiment. There are extensive negotiations between Jewish leaders, De Mille and Hays concerning specific eliminations to be made.


Anti-Semitism (3), Censorship (112), Foreign market (45), Jews (3), Motion pictures and religion (21), Protests (19) Show all keywords…


Long Description:

The Jews also get an assurance that the picture "is not now being shown and that it will not be shown in those European countries or communities where in the judgement of wise counsel it might likely be the cause of creating anti-Jewish feeling, nor where it is likely to be the cause of any disorder, owing to the subject matter of the picture."Documents on King of Kings: Several points to note:The tone of Andrews' promomotional letter for the CDA, using King of Kings, begins:"Every thoughtful religious leader is aware of the great influence the drama is exerting on the attitude and ideals of his people, especially the youth of his congregation. The Theatre has a rightful and necessary place in our civilization but it must be guided and controlled if it is not to undermine the foundations of society." -- assumes an apocalyptic stance on the part both of himself and the recipients, presumably largely Protestant clergy.In other letters, largely borrowing from Milliken phrasing, the requirement to support the picture is insistent: -- the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) letter:"The producers of the picture were led to make the picture by their faith that the solid, substantial men and women of the world would support their efforts. A large sum of money was invested in that faith because this picture, of course, had to be accurate as well as beautiful. And so, quite naturally as well as quite frankly, the motion picture industry is watching us to see how we respond to the picture. The sincerity of our demand for the best pictures will be judged largely by our actions in connection with "The King of Kings. We've got to show them, therefore, that we are sincere. We've got to make "The King of Kings" worthwhile." -- Milliken writes large number of letters requesting/demanding clerical support in promoting the picture on its roadshow appearances -- all these in late Sept, 1927.In October, the Jewish problem begins to surface with objections to the movie -- mainly over the title "crucify him" uttered by the crowd and High Priest. There followed two months of attempts to control the situation, while the picture was being road-shown -- there were 4 road shows. They had cooperation from B'Nai B'Rith, less from other Jewish groups, particularly from Rabbi Wise, who denounced the movie publicly while negotiations were still going on. December 21 they produce a collection of amendments, approved by John Flinn, who was supervising the film's distribution. They also proposed not releasing the film in parts of Europe where it might engender anti-Jewish sentiment -- Milliken mentions Poland, Hungary Czechoslovakia and Roumania. When -- December 23 -- Flinn wrote to De Mille with the proposed changes, he mentioned the complications of changing the road-show version -- involving sending someone round with the relevant footage. "The picture must be cut later to a proper length for motion picture theatre exhibition, and in reediting for that purpose can take into account incorporating any of the suggestions herewith without great difficulty."

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