Ben-Hur (1959)

Originally published at Superfriends Universe

MOVIE: Ben-Hur
DIRECTOR: William Wyler
SCREENPLAY: Karl Tunberg based on the book by Lew Wallace
CAST: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith

Winner: Best Picture
Winner: Best Actor in a Leading Role – Charlton Heston
Winner: Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Hugh Griffith
Winner: Best Director – William Wyler
Winner: Best Art Decoration/Set Decoration
Winner: Best Cinematography
Winner: Best Costume Design
Winner: Best Special Effects
Winner: Best Film Editing
Winner: Best Music, Score
Winner: Best Sound
Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay

Ben-Hur is one of those legendary movies you always hear about in the same breath as Casablanca,
Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane and The Wizard of Oz. It’s Hollywood royalty. It also, at the time, was the most expensive movie ever made. By the time it began shooting in 1959, the production budget had swelled up to $15 Million, which seems paltry by today’s standards, but adjusted for inflation that’s roughly $120 Million. MGM studios more than quadrupled their investment when the film went on to make $70 Million at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo, it is the 13th biggest movie of all time when you adjust for ticket price inflation, making an approximate $788 Million (Domestic) in ticket sales. The story revolves around Judah Ben-Hur, a rich Jewish merchant in Jerusalem who angers the new commander of the Roman garrison, Masala, a man he grew up with. Judah is exiled but vows to return and exact his revenge. The film is famous for an incredible 9-minute chariot race that has never been duplicated since (sorry, Lucas, pod-racing don’t count.) Even by 2013 standards, this has to rank as one of the greatest action sequences of all time. Ben-Hur defines the term “epic.”

Ben-Hur is available on DVD and Blu-Ray as well as disc rental through Netflix. You can also purchase or rent digital copies via Amazon or iTunes. It’s also playing tomorrow (February 16) on Turner Classic Movies at 8 PM EST.

Ben-Hur ranked in The Essential Films’ countdowns of the 100 Greatest Films and 100 Greatest Movie Heroes.