Jeffrey Hunter played the starring role in this Easter
you undoubtedly know, a fair share of movies have been
produced in which Jesus and early Christians have been
the subject. With Easter quickly approaching it seems
fitting to consider such films—and the following quiz
does just that.
A movie from 1961 came to be saddled with the nickname “I
Was a Teenage Jesus.” It starred a Whitefish Bay High School
graduate in the Jesus role. Give the movie’s actual title
and identify its locally reared star.
What formidable actor provided the resonant narrative voice
for that ’61 film?
Paul Newman’s first movie (1954) had him portraying a Greek
sculptor friend of the evangelist Luke. Newman played
opposite the habitually villainous Jack Palance and was torn
between lovelies of the Christian (Pier Angeli) and pagan
(Virginia Mayo) persuasions. What was the movie?
The actor who took on the title role in “Barabbas” (1961)
subsequently played both the high priest Caiaphas and a
fictional pope. Can you name him?
The first movie released in CinemaScope was a book-based
1953 production whose players included Jean Simmons, Victor
Mature, Michael Rennie — and a seven-time Oscar nominee for
best actor. Identify the movie; tell whether his performance
earned its star one of his seven nominations; and, of
course, name the star.
The nonconformist director of an early ’60s biography of
Christ had helmed the iconic “Rebel Without a Cause” a few
years earlier. The name of this Wisconsin native?
Franco Zeffirelli (“Romeo and Juliet”; “Brother Sun, Sister
Moon”) directed a 1977 television miniseries some consider
to be the finest of all film treatments of Jesus’ life. Can
you name the two-parter, which starred Robert Powell?
Norman Jewison (“Moonstruck”; “In the Heat of the Night”)
directed one of two New Testament-rooted big-screen musicals
released in 1973. Identify it.
Name the other ’73 movie musical, which was directed by
Robert Greene (“Roots,” Part I) and starred Victor Garber as
An all-star cast of uncredited writers — Maxwell Anderson,
S.N. Behrman, Christopher Fry, Gore Vidal — lent their
talents to a certain 1950s spectacle. Name it.
In “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965), this very popular
singer from the ’50s assumed the role of an angel at Jesus’
tomb. Name the faux angel.
Which biblical character did each of the following actor
sets portray? (a) David Bowie, Arthur Kennedy, Rod Steiger
(b) James Farentino, Lorne Greene, Howard Keel (c) Harvey
Keitel, David McCallum, Rip Torn (d) Jim Caviezel, Willem
Dafoe, Max von Sydow.
Which biblical character did each of the following actress
sets portray? (a) Anne Bancroft, Yvonne Elliman, Barbara
Hershey (b) Jacqueline Bisset, Olivia Hussey, Julianne Moore
(c) Penelope Cruz, Helen Hunt, Bette Midler.
Biblically speaking, Charlton Heston is most closely
associated with “The Ten Commandments,” in which, of course,
he played Moses. In “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” however,
Heston played a New Testament figure, one also portrayed on
screen by the likes of Michael York and Robert Ryan. Who was
Heston’s New Testament alter ego?
Which 1964 Italian film was directed by an atheist and
depicted Jesus as a Marxist precursor?
Name the Christianity- related movie based on a similarly
titled book written by each of the following. (a) Thomas B.
Costain (b) Nikos Kazantzakis (c) Lew Wallace.
One big screen portrayer of Christ also played Captain Pike
in “The Cage,” pilot episode for TV’s “Star Trek.” Can you
name him? (Hint: The unfortunate actor succumbed at age 42,
following a cerebral hemorrhage and skull fracture.)
Playing the Roman centurion Lucius in “Barabbas” was an
Oscar-winning actor who also starred in a popular TV sitcom
and is remembered hereabouts for his connections with
Milwaukee’s Great Circus Parade. Do you know his name?
Poet Carl Sandburg was an uncredited writer for this movie,
whose director also helmed the classics “Shane” and “Giant.”
What was the film — and who was the helmsman?
Two recent additions to the Jesus movies list respectively
feature actors Joseph Fiennes and Sean Bean. Can you
In his final film, Claude Rains portrayed Herod the Great.
What was the movie?
In capturing the role of Judas for the original Broadway
production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Ben Vereen beat out
the actor who wound up playing Jesus in the musical’s movie
iteration. Can you name the Broadway reject turned movie
The 1999 TV movie “Jesus” featured in the title role an
actor who went on to a regular part within television’s “Law
& Order” franchise. Who was he?
A cinematic story in Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic, focusing on
Christ’s final hours, became both the highest-grossing
religious film and the highest-grossing R-rated movie in
America. Can you identify it?
In the star-studded production “The Greatest Story Ever
Told,” what parts did Oscar laureate Sidney Poitier, future
Emmy winner Telly Savalas and larger-than-life personality
John Wayne respectively play?
you did on the Easter movie quiz