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Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 8 October 1927 (USA)
A Jewish prince seeks to find his family and revenge himself upon his childhood friend who had him wrongly imprisoned.


Fred Niblo, Charles Brabin (uncredited) | 3 more credits »


Lew Wallace (novel) (as General Lew Wallace), June Mathis (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Ramon Novarro ... Ben-Hur
Francis X. Bushman ... Messala
May McAvoy ... Esther
Betty Bronson ... Mary
Claire McDowell ... Princess of Hur
Kathleen Key ... Tirzah
Carmel Myers ... Iras
Nigel De Brulier ... Simonides (as Nigel de Brulier)
Mitchell Lewis ... Sheik Ilderim
Leo White ... Sanballat
Frank Currier ... Arrius
Charles Belcher Charles Belcher ... Balthazar
Dale Fuller ... Amrah
Winter Hall ... Joseph


Erstwhile childhood friends, Judah Ben-Hur and Messala meet again as adults, this time with Roman officer Messala as conqueror and Judah as a wealthy, though conquered, Israelite. A slip of a brick during a Roman parade causes Judah to be sent off as a galley slave, his property confiscated and his mother and sister imprisoned. Years later, as a result of his determination to stay alive and his willingness to aid his Roman master, Judah returns to his homeland an exalted and wealthy Roman athlete. Unable to find his mother and sister, and believing them dead, he can think of nothing else than revenge against Messala. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


BEN-HUR is a picture that brings to your door the realms of beauty and magnificance never before conceived by man; it unfolds before your eyes scenes so aw-inspiring in their grandeur, so poignant and breathtaking in their tremendous action that it will enthrall you from beginning to end. (Print Ad- Cody Enterprise, ((Cody, Wyo.)) 29 February 1928) See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

8 October 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur See more »

Filming Locations:

Anzio, Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »


Box Office


$3,950,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (restored)

Sound Mix:



Color (2-strip Technicolor) (nine sequences)| Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Assuming its copyright has not lapsed already, this film and all others produced in 1925 enter the U.S. public domain in 2021. See more »


Camera visible during the chariot race. See more »


Iras: Flashing eyes and milk-white bodies! Beauty to be tamed! Does it not thrill you?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Thames Silent/Warner Home Video DVD alters several scenes:
  • In the Chariot Race, a titled exchange by Messala and the Greek driver, originally superimposed on a scene of a charging chariot, is changed to title cards on a black background.
  • In the Crucifixion, a close-up of Christ's nailed hand, gesturing a blessing before dying, is omitted.
See more »


Featured in Movies Are Adventure (1948) See more »

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User Reviews

Silent and stunning version about the known hero set in the Roman empire at the time of Christ
17 April 2017 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Nice silent rendition that still stands as the all-time silent classic , including marvelously staged battle ships and overwhelming chariot races . It packs impressive scenes that still look nice , in spite of age . Childhood friends , Judah Ben-Hur (Ramon Novarro) and Messala (Francis X Bushman) meet again one time grown-up . Now as experienced adults , this time Messala is a Roman officer , a tough conqueror against the Jews and Judah as a rich noble , though conquered , Israelite . When in Jerusalem takes place a Roman parade , spontaneously falling a brick that causes Judah to be sent off as a galley slave , his ownership confiscated and his mother and sister Tirzah (Kathleen Key) imprisoned at an impregnable jail . But the brave Ben Hur goes on his determination to stay alive and saves the Roman general Quinto Arrio when they are attacked by a pirate galleon , and he , then , becomes his fostered son . Several years later Judah goes backs his homeland . Unable to locate his mummy and sister, and believing them dead , he can think of nothing else than vendetta against Messala . Meanwhile , Ben Hur falls for Esther (May McAvoy) , daughter of Simonides (Nigel Of Brulier) .

The second movie of the acclaimed novel , being lavishly produced , stars Ramón Novarro and Francis X. Buxman as Messala . Novarro is good in the known role as wealthy Palestinan battling the Roman Empire . The chariot race required thousands of extras on sets constructed on lots of acres of backlot at Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios . The MGM production costs were massive millions of dollars , as a lot of chariots were built , with half being used for practice . The race took various weeks to film . The known chariot scene was shot at what is now the intersection of La Cienega and Venice Boulevards in Los Angeles . Although problems lingered on the production and at a cost of over 4.000.000 dollars . The initial Italian set was eventually torn down and a new one built in Culver City , California . Attractive images , majestic set design , glamorous photography in black and white , evocative as well as rousing musical score subsequently added by the great composer Carl Davis combine to cast a spellbinding movie . The motion picture was stunningly realized by director Fred Niblo helped by Second-unit director B. Reeves Eason and Cliff Lyons ; being a hit smash at the box office . In 1931 , a shortened version was released . Rating : 8 , extraordinary and awesome , it ranked as the most expensive movie of its time and took years to end ; it is one of the greatest films in the genre "Epic". Ben-Hur still stands as the all-time silent classic .

Other retellings based on this vintage novel written by Lewis Wallace are the followings : The classic version ¨Ben-Hur¨ won a record 11 Ocars , directed by William Wyler with Charlton Heston , Stephen Boyd , Haya Harareet , Jack Hawkins , Sam Jaffe , Finlay Currie , Martha Scott , Cathy O'Donnell , in which stuntman Cliff Lyons worked a Stuntman/chariot driver in both versions : 1925 and 1959 ; cartoon version (2003) by Bill Kowalchuck with prologue by Charlton Heston and ¨Ben-Hur¨ TV series by Steven Shrill with Joseph Morgan , Stephen Campbell Moore , Kristen Krouk , Simon Andreu and Lucia Jimenez

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