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Ben-Hur (30-Dec-1925)

Director: Fred Niblo

Writers: H. H. Caldwell; Katherine Hilliker; June Mathis; Bess Meredyth; Carey Wilson

From novel: Ben Hur by Lew Wallace

Keywords: Action/Adventure, Bible

A Jewish prince, condemned to slavery by a boyhood friend, frees himself from bondage and seeks revenge. With a cast of thousands of extras, the most expensive silent film ever produced; young Irving Thalberg is largely responsible for shepherding this picture to release. Excitement of the chariot race approaches that of the 1959 version; its realistic naval battle utilizes full-sized ships. Entered 1997 into the National Film Registry.

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Francis X. Bushman
10-Jan-1883 23-Aug-1966 Ben-Hur
Carmel Myers
4-Apr-1899 9-Nov-1980 Ben-Hur
Ramon Novarro
6-Feb-1899 30-Oct-1968 Ben-Hur


Review by KM (posted on 21-Mar-2005)

Just saw the latter half of this classic on Turner Classic Movies and was very impressed! The version I saw included the restored color scenes and an orchestral score (perhaps not the original score) that added a great deal. The chariot race was very exciting.

The acting and makeup conventions that differentiate the silent and talking film eras are still a bit hard for me to get into sync with. There is much of what we consider today to be overacting and overly heavy, stage-y makeup, so I try to put myself in a "silent" frame of mind in order to better appreciate silent films. We forget today how much of the story in a silent film MUST be carried only by gesture and facial expression in the absence of dialogue.

There's a good review of this film on e-opinions. Overall, I have to give the edge to the 1959 remake, but don't miss this 1925 version, either.

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