Ray Winstone rides a horse as King Saul, and more, in new photos from the set of Of Kings and Prophets

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At last, a photo of Ray Winstone in costume as King Saul in Of Kings and Prophets!

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Ray Winstone to play Saul in ABC’s Of Kings and Prophets

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Ray Winstone is going back to the Bible. The British actor — who played Quintus Arrius in the TV version of Ben-Hur and the villainous Tubal-Cain in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah — has signed on to play Saul, the paranoid first king of Israel, in Of Kings and Prophets, the ABC pilot that is being written by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, the original writers of Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings.

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Guess who’s behind the new ABC series about King David

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The Wrap reports that ABC has ordered five new pilot episodes — basically test runs for potential full-fledged series — and one of them is biblical in nature.

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Bible movie of the week: Samson and Delilah (1949)

The Bible epic, as a genre, is typically associated with the 1950s, and for good reason. That’s when Hollywood churned out a series of Bible-themed films, such as David and Bathsheba (1951), The Robe (1953) and The Ten Commandments (1956); and both the decade and the genre reached their climax with Ben-Hur (1959), which won a record number of Oscars in addition to becoming one of the biggest box-office hits of all time.

But the decade arguably got its start in the 1940s, when Cecil B. DeMille produced Samson and Delilah (1949), starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr. It was the first major Bible movie made by an American studio since the silent era — or since the early sound era, if we count DeMille’s The Sign of the Cross (1932), which takes place after the Book of Acts, as a “Bible movie” — and it was a fairly big hit, thereby paving the way for all the bathrobe epics that followed.

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The Bible: second episode, first impressions

Another week, another episode of the mini-series The Bible. These are my first impressions of the second episode.

The pacing, redux. The second episode is 86 minutes long, and the first six minutes consist of footage from the first episode, so that leaves only 80 minutes for the second episode to take us all the way from the spies in Jericho to the birth of King Solomon — a period that covers about two or three centuries.

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Review: The Bible Collection (dir. various, 1996-1997)

Samson and Delilah, Warner Alliance, 1996, dir. Nicolas Roeg.
David, Warner Alliance, 1997, dir. Robert Markowitz.

THE BIBLE Collection was, and is, a great idea, but like so many great ideas, its execution has proved rather uneven.

The initial films in this made-for-TV series — Abraham, Jacob and especially Joseph — treated biblical sex and violence with uncommon frankness, and they brought to life biblical stories that had, until then, languished in cinematic obscurity. Moses covered more familiar territory, but its down-to-earth naturalism and a terrific performance by Ben Kingsley helped to set it apart from the overblown epics of the past.

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