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Heston takes command at French ceremony

PARIS — Some key roles in Charlton Heston’s career of more than 80 films may have established him as a leader of men throughout history, but it took the French to make him a commander in the here and now.

Minister of Culture Philippe Douste-Blazy elevated Heston to the rank of Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters) in a ceremony Monday that was attended by more admirers than Moses could shake a staff at.

Douste-Blazy emphasized the actor’s many accomplishments, singling out Heston’s insistence on hiring Orson Welles to helm “Touch of Evil” “when no producer wanted to have anything to do with Welles as a director.”

The minister also pointed out that, unlike the medals that adorned Heston’s chest in his death scene in “Khartoum,” this one is “the genuine article.”

After the career retrospective now under way at the annual Cinemalia Festival in Beauvais, Heston plans to return to France in May, as part of the cast of Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet,” which may grace the Croisette.

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