King of Kings [1961]

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield, Ron Randell, Viveca Lindfors
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 168 minutes

The moving biblical tale of Esther--a humble Jewish girl who saved her people from annihilation and won the heart of the handsome Persian king Xerxes--is the subject of One Night with the King, a lush ode to one of the Old Testament's most inspiring women. Esther, played with spark and confidence by Tiffany Dupont, could perhaps be said to be the first career woman to "have it all"--while also serving her people, and God. The film, shot on location in India, has the feel of the great epics of the '60s--a sensation underscored by the appearance, in small but pivotal roles, of both Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole. (Even Raiders of the Lost Ark's John Rhys-Davies--"Bad dates!"--echoes earlier desert adventures.) But the film belongs to the willful Esther, who navigates among war, bloodlust, persecution, and terror with the strength of knowing she's serving the Lord, and her people. If the film has a few anachronisms--including the young Esther's suitor, who has blonde streaks and a surfer-dude delivery ("The market was rilly busy today")--its heart and its focus never waver. Fans of biblical tales and well-made drama for the entire family shouldn't miss it. --A.T. Hurley

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