Ben Hur 1959 Movie Review

October 13, 2014 Whitney movie review 0 Comments

Director: William Wyler
Writers: Lew Wallace (novel) (as General Lew Wallace), Karl Tunberg (screenplay)
Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd
Release Date:December 26, 1959

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

I recently went to see Ben Hur on the big screen with a friend, neither of us having seen the film before.  I was disappointed by two things.  First, they didn’t play “modern previews” as I would have found that hilarious and second we were not the only ones in the theater, and were joined by two other couples (six of us in all) and were several decades older than us.

The first half was interesting and built a good plot with lots of dialogue holding attention.  It was also nice to see Charlton Heston without a gun in hand or yell “damn dirty apes” and discovered he really can act.  Second was recognizing what a production Ben Hur was, like Cleopatra, but unlike the Queen of the Nile Ben Hur succeed by leaps and bounds, with its costumes and scenery and had a story to back it all up.  The film got a bit melodramatic at the end of part one but having learned of your sibling’s and mother’s death is understandable, although the reaction still made me giggle.
One thing I noticed was how blue Charlton Heston’s eyes were and that the camera continually focused on them.
and reminded me of this
Then we had an intermission, we were impressed they kept the intermission in there as did our behinds.  When we were once again seated, one of the moviegoers asked why we were seeing Ben Hur my friend and I replied that we had never seen it before and there wasn’t anything else out that looked good.  That got the small crowd into an uproar that we had never seen Ben Hur before as it was all their favorite movie.
The ending mainly focused on the teachings of Jesus (as did a portion of the first part) and Ben Hur’s mother and Sister being Lepers.  The ending was pretty predictable and I don’t just mean the thing about Jesus.  Even so it held the same calibre as the beginning.
When the lights came up we were asked if we liked it and replied we did, although I would have been a little weary to reply otherwise in that crowd.  I actually did enjoy it and was glad to have finally seen a film I kept passing over on TCM.


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