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Rabbis Dissatisfied with Changes, Insist ‘king of Kings’ Film Be Withdrawn

January 13, 1928
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

(Jewish Dally Bulletin)

Dissatisfaction with the agreement reached between the Independent Order B’nai Brith and Cecil de Mille whereby the producer of the film “King of Kings” accepted certain revisions suggested by the I.O.B.B. and the addition of a prologue to the picture was expressed by Rabbi Louis I. Newman of Temple Emanu-El.

“Grave danger lies in revision of the picture instead of its withdrawal,” Rabbi Newman said in a statement he issued.

“Cecil De Mille may now capitalize this acceptance of a revision as tantamount to Jewish endorsement of the film as it goes on tour of United States and abroad,” Rabbi Newman said. “This will undo the preventive work among moving picture booking agencies which have agreed not to show the picture. Just as Irish groups found that revision of the film, ‘The Callahans and the Murphys,’ did not suffice and finally brought about withdrawal of the picture, so the Jews must not cease their protest until the ‘King of Kings’ is likewise withdrawn from circulation.”

Insistence on the withdrawal of the picture was made yesterday in a statement issued by Rabbi Israel Goldstein of Temple B’nai Jeshurun, who directs a query to the L.O.B.B. as to why it did, not consult other Jewish bodies who went on record demanding the withdrawal of the film.

“Resolutions condemning the picture and urging its withdrawal were passed by a number of responsible and representative Jewish bodies including the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the United Synagogue of America, the New York Board of Jewish Ministers, and, the Board of Jewish Ministers of Northern California,” Rabbi Golcstein declared.

“In the face of such expressions of Jewish public opinion, the Independent Order B’nai Brith, without consulting the aforementioned bodies, proceeded to negotiate the revision of the film with Mr. Will Hays, and through him with Mr. de Mille, the producer of the film, and concluded an agreement which was reported the other day, whereby Mr. de Mille the producer, promised to modify some of the scenes and to add a foreword exculpating the Jewish people from any blame for the Crucifixion.

“The implication is that the Independent Order of B’nai Brith, the other party to the agreement, would in turn, with draw its objections to the film, so that “The King of Kings’ might go on being exhibited in the cities, towns and hamlets in the country, with the full sanction of American Israel, as represented by the I. O. B. B.

“It may be taken for granted that Mr. de Mille will put to excellent business advantage the agreement concluded with him by the I.O.B.B.

“It is still the opinion of many people, including the writer, that the modifications which have been agreed upon, will be of little avail in mitigating the menace of the film.

“So far as a special foreword to the picture is concerned, there are enough ifliterates going to the movies who will be immune to antidotal prefaces, and even the literate spectators will remember the vivid picturization of Caiaphas and the Pharisees much better than the few words of an introductory sentence. So far as revision and modification of scenes is concerned, a subject of this kind is not amenable to any partial revision. The theme as such is one which inevitably places the Jew or Jews in a bad light.”

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