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Ben-Hur (1959)

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When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

Lew Wallace (novel) (as General Lew Wallace), Karl Tunberg (screenplay)
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Popularity
2,517 ( 607)
Top Rated Movies #215 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charlton Heston ... Judah Ben-Hur
Jack Hawkins ... Quintus Arrius
Haya Harareet ... Esther
Stephen Boyd ... Messala
Hugh Griffith ... Sheik Ilderim
Martha Scott ... Miriam
Cathy O'Donnell ... Tirzah
Sam Jaffe ... Simonides
Finlay Currie ... Balthasar / Narrator
Frank Thring ... Pontius Pilate
Terence Longdon ... Drusus
George Relph George Relph ... Tiberius Caesar
André Morell ... Sextus
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Storyline

Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Together with the new governor his old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. At first they are happy to meet after a long time but their different politic views separate them. During the welcome parade a roof tile falls down from Judah's house and injures the governor. Although Messala knows they are not guilty, he sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. But Judah swears to come back and take revenge. Written by Matthias Scheler <tron@lyssa.owl.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The World's Most Honored Motion Picture See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 January 1960 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

William Wyler's Ben-Hur See more »

Filming Locations:

Anzio, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$241,792, 14 April 2019

Gross USA:

$74,422,622

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$74,427,638
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1970) | (1962) | (1993 re-release) | (DVD) | (2005 DVD)

Sound Mix:

6-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Upon reading Karl Tunberg's original script, William Wyler had written in the margins "awful . . . horrible". Consequently, he brought in Gore Vidal--who was under contract to MGM at the time and hated it--to rewrite the screenplay. Vidal also thought that Tunberg's script was dreadful and initially didn't even want to take on the project. He changed his mind when Wyler promised to get him out of the remaining two years of his contract. Wyler then brought in playwright Maxwell Anderson to do a draft. Playwright Christopher Fry was then engaged by Wyler to polish a screenplay that, by that time, was largely Anderson's work, built on the skeleton of Tunberg's earlier drafts. Neither Fry nor Vidal (whose contribution was almost negligible) received screen credit for their work on the film, which infuriated Wyler so much that he leaked the story to the press. See more »

Goofs

Pontius Pilate wears a purple toga at the chariot race. Purple togas were the prerogative of the emperor and the consuls only. See more »

Quotes

Quintus Arrius: Now listen to me, all of you. You are all condemned men. We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well, and live.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion is shown in a still-frame to appear looking peaceful at the beginning rather than roaring. See more »

Alternate Versions

According to Leonard Maltin's 1987 "TV Movies Guide," the film was re-cut for later re-issues; this version runs 165 minutes. The complete, 212-minute film, however, is the version commonly seen in circulation today, and is available on DVD and airs on Turner Classic Movies. See more »


Soundtracks

Fanfare To Prelude / Prelude / Marcia Romana
Composed and Conducted by Miklós Rózsa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
pretty much sets the bar for epic entertainment
10 March 2015 | by A_Different_DrummerSee all my reviews

We are by nature a cynical and critical group.

With the attention span of a bumblebee, moreso the current generation than the earlier ones, because of exposure to mobile devices and other modern disposable non-repairable tech.

It is probably for that reason that epics like this one have become forgotten over time. Even the late CH has become more a societal joke and less of an icon over time. Michael Moore made Heston's participation in the NRA a joke. (If Heston's concerns over where society is headed prove to be true, the final joke may be on Moore.) Back to the film. It is almost perfect. Then, as now. The script continually builds. Modern writers could learn from that. No matter what is presently on screen as you watch, the inevitability of the final climax beckons.

The acting is perfect.

The mixture of myth and drama is perfect.

True the Roman dialog did not benefit from the verbal tricks that Stephen McKnight used in Spartacus (bending the script to match the flow of actual Roman) but it is more than enough to entertain and entrance.

From the "accident" early in the film which starts the flow of events, to the chariot race WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN EQUALLED IN THE HISTORY OF FILM, to the reunion with lost family at the end, this is one of the most powerful and entertaining films of all time


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