(Camera 65 — Color)
Blockbuster to top all previous blockbusters. Metro release of Sam Zimbalist production. Stars Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Sam Jaffe and Cathy O’Donnell. Directed by William Wyler. Screenplay, KarI Tunberg from the novel by Gen. Lew Wallace; camera (Camera 65-Technicolor), Robert L. Surtees; editor, Ralph E. Winters and John D. Dunning; music, Miklos Rozsa. At Loew’s State. N. Y., Nov.16, ’59. Running time, 212 MINS.
The $l5,000,000 bet Metro topper Joseph R. Vogel and his associates put on a chariot race should result in the biggest payoff in the history of film business. “Ben Hur” is a majestic achievement representing a superb blending of the motion picture arts by master craftsmen. “Gone With the Wind,” Metro’s own champion all-time top grosser, will eventually have to take a back seat.
The big difference between “Ben-Hur” and other spectacles, biblical or otherwise, is its sincere concern for human beings. They’re not just pawns reciting flowery dialog to fill gaps between the action and spectacle scenes. They arouse genuine emotional feeling in the audience.
This has been accomplished without sacrificing the impact of the action, panoramic, and spectacle elements. As a matter of fact. the famous chariot race between Ben-Hur, the Prince of Judea, and Messala, the Roman tribune — a trademark of the Gen. Lew Wallace classic — will probably be preserved in the film archives as the finest example of the use of the motion picture camera to record an action sequence. The race, directed by An-drew Marton and Yakima Canutt, represents some 40 minutes of the most hair-raising excitement that film audiences have ever witnessed.