King David (1985) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I was really disappointed by this movie.

I know what you're thinking. I should know better. After all, I write about movies every day, and I should have realistic expectations about a movie which stars Richard Gere as Israel's greatest king.

You got it all wrong, ya mug.

I wasn't disappointed in the sense that it was much worse than I expected. Quite the contrary. I was disappointed because it was better than I expected.

You see, I love really bad movies. I have watched Road House five times and loved it every time. Plan 9? A classic! Manos, the Hands of Fate? Genius! Some of my favorite recent movies include Hell Comes to Frogtown and Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. What could be more fun than a truly inspired bad movie? When I read about Richard Gere as King David, I was stoked. Before the film arrived, I was already composing articles in my head. "I have to write about the worst casting of all time. Gotta do the research." I was thinking for days about John Wayne as Genghis Khan; Mickey Rourke as Francis of Assisi; Hugh Grant as Lord Byron; Kevin Costner as Robin Hood.

Pipe dreams. All pipe dreams.

Gere doesn't give an outrageously bad performance. He just gives his usual Richard Gere performance, creating a King David who is breathtakingly handsome and as devoid of personality as the next door neighbors on Ozzie and Harriet. Gere even managed some kind of heightened articulation so that, while he didn't sound classical or Shakespearian, neither did he sound like his usual Philly Guy self, which is what I was hoping for.

I really thought it was going to be a Tony Curtis kind of thing. ("Yonda lies da cassel of my brudda!").


Alice Krige - breast close-ups and a longer distance frontal as she bathes. Unfortunately, in a very dimly illuminated scene.

Cherie Lungi  - breasts in a sex scene with King Dave.

I was already dreaming up the punch lines.

  • It's the only production in which King David is referred to as 'Dave'.

  • Dave finds out that the Philistines aren't really from Philadelphia, and refuses to stay with them any longer because he can't get a decent cheesesteak sandwich in all of Gath.

No luck. Not a good movie, but not laughably bad. Oh, it's bad, just not bad enough to be consistently funny.

It's just your basic garden-variety boring biblical thing. Although it lacks flair, it was directed with competence by Bruce Beresford, who has churned out a whole career full of similarly competent but uninspired movies like Driving Miss Daisy and Bride of the Wind. Of course, King Dave is down there near the bottom of Beresford's credits at IMDb, but with him at the helm the film is obviously not the complete hack-job I was hoping for. Damn!

  1. (7.86) - 'Breaker' Morant (1980)
  2. (7.35) - Tender Mercies (1983)
  3. (7.29) - Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
  4. (7.05) - Black Robe (1991)
  5. (7.05) - Evelyn (2002)
  6. (6.61) - Don's Party (1976)
  7. (6.57) - Paradise Road (1997)
  8. (6.44) - And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003) (TV)
  9. (6.37) - Crimes of the Heart (1986)
  10. (6.32) - Mister Johnson (1990)
  11. (6.25) - Getting of Wisdom, The (1977)
  12. (6.14) - Fringe Dwellers, The (1986)
  13. (5.94) - Club, The (1980)
  14. (5.90) - Double Jeopardy (1999)
  15. (5.85) - Rich in Love (1993)
  16. (5.72) - Last Dance (1996)
  17. (5.54) - Silent Fall (1994)
  18. (5.46) - Bride of the Wind (2001)
  19. (5.36) - Aria (1987)
  20. (5.32) - Adventures of Barry McKenzie, The (1972)
  21. (5.23) - Her Alibi (1989)
  22. (5.23) - Puberty Blues (1981)
  23. (4.92) - King David (1985)
  24. (4.84) - Good Man in Africa, A (1994)

The seemingly interminable story follows King David from his youth until his death at age seven thousand. Well it seemed that long. Dave starts out as a humble shepherd boy who writes some songs and sings them to the sheep. Hey, even Sinatra started small. Besides, sheep rarely heckle, so they're good for working out new material. Dave gradually starts singing for smarter animals, then starts playing a few big rooms, and is eventually singing his Psalms around all the swankiest hangouts in ancient Israel. As shown here, he's kind of a biblical crooner with some snappy Catskills patter.

"I accompany my songs with a lyre. I really enjoy a lyre. That's why Saul is my favorite king. (rim-shot) But I kid. You've been a lovely audience. I'll be here all week, and don't forget to tip your waiter."

Yup. Turns out Dave was the Sinatra of his day. In fact the parallel to Ol' Blue Eyes is shown quite clearly in Dave's oft-neglected 214th Psalm:

My kind of God

Oh, Yahweh is ...

My kind of God

Oh, Yahweh is ...

My kind of de-i-ty

I know he

Has chosen me

... and each time I roam

that Yahweh is

calling me home ...

Eventually Dave the Poet becomes Dave the Lord's Anointed, which really ticks off ol' Saul the King, played by The Equalizer, who likes to think of himself as the Big Cheese in Zion. The Equalizer does manage at least some degree of tolerance for the young whelp since Dave the shepherd-poet turns out to be a helluva warrior as well, and the kid teams up with The Lord of Hosts to do some serious smiting of Israel's enemies. They smite the living shit out of a whole bunch of pagans with tribal names ending in "_ites", like the Hittites,
Amalekites, Kenites, Jerahmeelites, Jezreelites, Carmelites, and Plebiscites. He even smote the asses of the obscure and peaceful sheep-herding tribe called the Woolites. In fact, for about a decade there, Dave and The Lord turned the entire Middle East into one massive smite-fest, filled with constant war and turbulence. Come to think of it, things haven't changed much since then.

In the interest of accuracy, I should note that Dave didn't really need to smite the Plebiscites. He just hung out with them and got them to hold a direct vote on whether to surrender to Israel.

OK, that's a stretch. I'm really digging deep into the vault of obscurity to dream up something funny about this movie.

In truth, there are only two really silly things in the film:

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic

  • no meaningful features, and the transfer is too damned dark.

  • This film probably holds the record for the most outlandish use of "swooshing" noises. It even tops those Hong Kong martial arts films. During the classic Biblical one-on-one confrontation, Goliath draws one seriously big-ass sword, so big that even the gigantic guy playing Goliath can barely wield it. Yet when he swings it slowly and laboriously through the air, obviously struggling with its heft, the film's sound guy adds some swooshing noises that make it sound like Goliath is getting more clubhead speed than John Daly reaching back for a little extra on the 16th tee at Firestone.

  • Richard Gere disco dances into Jerusalem wearing nothing but his Depends. Now that I look back on it, I smile at my mental picture of Richard Gere doing the Tony Manero moves in his diapers, but I guess by that point in the film I was not receptive to the foolishness, since my much anticipated cheesefest had turned out to be just another long, boring biblical epic.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Richard Gere was nominated for a Worst Actor Razzie

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office. It did five million. I don't know the budget, but it had to be fairly substantial, and this must have lost Paramount a bunch of greenbacks.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a D. It is competent, but I just can't imagine any reason to watch this film except the frontal nudity from Alice Krige. If you're really interested in the Bible, this interpretation will offer no new inspiration, and you'll be ticked off by the liberties taken with the story. If you're not interested in the Bible, it's a boring two hour voice-over recitation of unfamiliar names. "And then did he smite Menoch, and Bizzbat, and the Sodomites, and the Mennonites" ... and so forth.

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