Esther and the King (1960)

110 mins | Epic | November 1960

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Producer:

Raoul Walsh

Cinematographer:

Mario Bava

Editor:

Jerry Webb

Production Designer:

G. Giovannini
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was Story of Esther . A 1950 LAT news item noted that Darryl F. Zanuck hired Frank and Doris Hursley to write a script for The Story of Esther , and that George Jessel wanted to produce the film. A Feb 1951 HR news item added that Henry King was to direct. In Oct 1951, a HR news item stated that Joseph Bernhard and Anson Bond bought the Hursleys' screenplay, and planned to release their film through Twentieth Century-Fox. According to the Var review, the picture was filmed in Italy. According to a Nov 1960 DV news item, the National Catholic Legion of Decency found the film morally objectionable because of its excessive sensuality in dance and costumes. Several earlier films were based on the story of Esther. Among them is Esther , a 1916 British production by London-Diploma, directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Elisabeth Risdon and Fred Groves, and the 1986 British co-production Esther , directed by Amos Gitai and starring Mohammed Bakri and Rim ... More Less

The working title of this film was Story of Esther . A 1950 LAT news item noted that Darryl F. Zanuck hired Frank and Doris Hursley to write a script for The Story of Esther , and that George Jessel wanted to produce the film. A Feb 1951 HR news item added that Henry King was to direct. In Oct 1951, a HR news item stated that Joseph Bernhard and Anson Bond bought the Hursleys' screenplay, and planned to release their film through Twentieth Century-Fox. According to the Var review, the picture was filmed in Italy. According to a Nov 1960 DV news item, the National Catholic Legion of Decency found the film morally objectionable because of its excessive sensuality in dance and costumes. Several earlier films were based on the story of Esther. Among them is Esther , a 1916 British production by London-Diploma, directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Elisabeth Risdon and Fred Groves, and the 1986 British co-production Esther , directed by Amos Gitai and starring Mohammed Bakri and Rim Bani. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Nov 1960.
---
Daily Variety
21 Nov 60
p. 3.
Daily Variety
23 Nov 1960.
---
Film Daily
22 Nov 60
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 51
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 60
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 60
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
9 Dec 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Nov 60
p. 932.
New York Times
19 Nov 60
p. 13.
Variety
23 Nov 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Raoul Walsh Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Story of Esther
Release Date:
November 1960
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 18 November 1960
Los Angeles opening: 22 November 1960
Production Date:
filmed in Italy
Copyright Claimant:
Galatea, S.P.A.
Copyright Date:
18 November 1960
Copyright Number:
LU3174
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
110
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19742
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 500 B.C., King Ahasuerus of Persia, the most powerful man on Earth, returns triumphant after conquering the Egyptians. As he approaches the palace gates, the king rewards Simon, the Jewish warrior who saved his life, with the Sword of the Golden Rooster. Simon then returns to his village to marry his beloved, Esther. Meanwhile, inside the palace, Queen Vashti, the king's unfaithful wife, ends her dalliance with her husband's evil chief minister, Haman. The king already knows of her infidelity, however, and so labels her a harlot and casts her aside. At court that night, Mordecai, the king's loyal Judean advisor who is also Esther's uncle, criticizes Haman for his persecution of the Jews and advocates peace over war. Intent on conquering Greece, the king lays out his plans for the battle, which Mordecai faithfully transcribes onto a set of secret tablets. When Vashti defies the king by seductively dancing and exposing her body to all those present, the king banishes her. Haman offers to provide him with a new wife, but Mordecai objects, asserting that the law decrees the king must choose his own wife. Haman, who has been plundering the royal treasury and selling military secrets to Greece, then plots with Klydrathes, one of the king's generals, to eliminate Mordecai by framing him for selling the secret tablets to the enemy. To further control the king, Haman plans to install Keresh, his own concubine, as the new queen and so orders Vashti killed. As Simon and Esther prepare to recite their vows, the king's soldiers, on the lookout for eligible brides to present to their ruler, abduct Esther ... +


In 500 B.C., King Ahasuerus of Persia, the most powerful man on Earth, returns triumphant after conquering the Egyptians. As he approaches the palace gates, the king rewards Simon, the Jewish warrior who saved his life, with the Sword of the Golden Rooster. Simon then returns to his village to marry his beloved, Esther. Meanwhile, inside the palace, Queen Vashti, the king's unfaithful wife, ends her dalliance with her husband's evil chief minister, Haman. The king already knows of her infidelity, however, and so labels her a harlot and casts her aside. At court that night, Mordecai, the king's loyal Judean advisor who is also Esther's uncle, criticizes Haman for his persecution of the Jews and advocates peace over war. Intent on conquering Greece, the king lays out his plans for the battle, which Mordecai faithfully transcribes onto a set of secret tablets. When Vashti defies the king by seductively dancing and exposing her body to all those present, the king banishes her. Haman offers to provide him with a new wife, but Mordecai objects, asserting that the law decrees the king must choose his own wife. Haman, who has been plundering the royal treasury and selling military secrets to Greece, then plots with Klydrathes, one of the king's generals, to eliminate Mordecai by framing him for selling the secret tablets to the enemy. To further control the king, Haman plans to install Keresh, his own concubine, as the new queen and so orders Vashti killed. As Simon and Esther prepare to recite their vows, the king's soldiers, on the lookout for eligible brides to present to their ruler, abduct Esther and ride off with her. In retaliation, Simon attacks one of the king's generals and is forced to flee the village and take refuge in the temple ruins. At the palace, meanwhile, the prospective brides are sequestered to await the king's decision. To narrow the field, Haman decides to hand several of the women over to his lusty soldiers and designates Esther as one of their victims. As the soldiers carry the squealing women through the palace's corridors, the king, dressed only in a loincloth and therefore unidentifiable as the royal leader, overpowers the brutish soldiers, freeing Esther. While wandering the hallways, Esther encounters Mordecai, who suggests that the gentle Esther may have been chosen to win the king's favor and thus save her people. As the women await presentation to the king, Hegai, the palace eunuch, impressed by Esther's modesty, drapes a golden cloak over her shoulders. When Haman sees the cloak, he instructs an assassin to kill the woman wearing it. Jealous of the beautiful robe, Keresh snatches it from Esther when she is called to her audience with the king and thus meets death at the hands of Haman's assassin. Esther, the last of the women, is curtly dismissed by the king until he recognizes her from the hallway. Relenting, the king asks Esther to remain at the palace and make her own decision about marrying him. As the days pass, Esther finds herself attracted to the king, who is cheered by her presence. One day, Mordecai goes to Simon to inform him that Esther's growing affection for the king will be the Jews's salvation. Jealous, Simon uses his golden sword to gain entrance to the palace, where he tries to convince Esther to leave with him. When Simon threatens to kill the king, Esther rings for the guards, forcing Simon to flee. Esther then consents to be the king's wife and, once crowned queen, begins to advance reform through new, just taxation laws and courts of justice. When Haman callously calls for a law to annihilate the Jews unless they denounce their God, Esther urges the king to cast out all oppression and intolerance, prompting him to threaten Haman with exile unless he accepts the news precepts. Furious, Haman decides to launch his plan to overthrow the king and discredit the Jews through Mordecai. After planting a set of forged tablets outlining the invasion plans in the temple, Haman denounces Mordecai as a traitor and accuses Esther of conspiring with him. When the king then orders Mordecai hanged and all the Jews killed unless they renounce their God, Esther proclaims that she will die, too, because she is a Jew. At Esther's urging, the king decides to inspect the royal treasury before carrying out his edict. After the king rides off with his troops, Haman sends Klydrathes to kill the ruler and bring back his head. As Klydrathes and his men wait in ambush at the temple ruins, Simon springs out and stabs Klydrathes. While Klydrathes' troops charge the king's soldiers, Simon duels with the king and accuses him of stealing Esther. As Klydrathes lays dying, he confesses that Haman betrayed the king and organized the assassination plot. Realizing that Haman intends to kill all the Jews, the king gives Simon his sacred shield and sends him to the castle to arm the Jews. While Haman smugly ponders his victory, Simon dispenses swords to the Jews assembled at the temple. When the guards march Mordecai to the gallows, the Jews rush them, and Simon is fatally stabbed while cutting the rope encircling Mordecai's neck. Realizing that he has lost, Haman jumps into his chariot and orders the gates opened, but when they swing open, he is met by the triumphant king, who orders Haman's execution. As Simon draws his last breath, Mordecai designates the night as "Purim," marking the deliverance of the Jews from massacre. Esther then returns to her village and the king goes to war with Greece. Some time later, the defeated king returns home, his troops beaten and in tatters, and Esther runs from the hills to embrace him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.