Friday, September 24, 2010
Every time TCM (Turner Classic Movies) airs Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston, I find myself watching it from start to finish. Every minute of its three and a half plus hours! I am truly hooked on this glorious movie. It has everything: adventure, history, spirituality, love stories and every passion imaginable including love, hatred and greed. Who can resist the chariot race? A magnificent piece of filmmaking all by itself. The film won 11 Oscars includinjg Best Picture and one for Heston as Best Actor. Heston, always so wooden on stage, is great under William Wyler's impeccable direction, as are the entire cast.
If we must get specific, and I always do, one member of the cast was ashamedly overlooked in the Oscar race: Stephen Boyd (top photo). A beautiful man and an intensely strong actor, Boyd is the villain from hell in Ben-Hur. His performance as Messala is riveting from beginning to end, so full of love and hate, and his death scene is undeniably one of the best on film. I cringe every time he tries to draw a gasping breath from that broken body.His is a truly wonderful piece of work that should have been recognized with an Academy Award, and not even to be nominated, is inexcusable.
Ben-Hur has magnificent cinematography, art direction, music et al. I am forever moved in the final scenes when Martha Scott and Cathy O'Donnell are cleansed of leprosy and they are reunited with Heston once more. Sentimentality - hell! Families lived for each other in that period of time. What a terrific work of cinematic art!