“‘Charlton Heston is an axiom. He constitutes a tragedy in himself, his presence in any film being enough to instill beauty. The pent-up violence expressed by the somber phosphoresence of his eyes, his eagle’s profile, the imperious arch of his eyebrows, the hard, bitter curve of his lips, the stupendous strength of his torso — that is what he has been give, and what not even the worst of directors can debase. It is in this sense that one can say that Charlton Heston, by his very existence and regardless of the film he is in, provides a more accurate definition of the cinema than films like Hiroshima Mon Amour or Citizen Kane, films whose aesthetic either ignores or repudiates Charlton Heston.’
“So goes the most notorious passage of one of the most controversial piece of film criticism ever written, ‘In Defense of Violence’ by Michel Mourlet, published in Cahiers du Cinema #107,m May 1960. One cannot but recall this signal work by the MacMahonist High Priest now that Moses, Ben-Hur, Michelangelo, El Cid, NRA president et.al. has bought the farm.”
“Back in 1941 he had little to offer but his babe-a-liciousness in Peer Gynt, an exceedingly low-budget rendition of Ibsen in which director David Bradley (soon-to-be auteur of the ineffable They Save Hitler’s Brain) decided that the best thing to do was have Chuck wear as little as possible (hubba-hubba.)” Hear hear!
Re: slashy backstory in Ben Hur
“No surprise there. And no surprise that he agreed to go along because ‘anything is better than what we’ve got.’ And so Boyd was told about his motivation, but not Heston. For Wyler cautioned ‘Don’t ever tell Chuck what it’s all about, or he’ll fall apart.’ One can only wonder why Heston, who began his acting career under the direction of David Bradley, and continued the better part of it running around half-naked, would ‘fall apart’ over the notion of an off-screen, backstory love affair with Stephen Boyd. But then how could the man who marched with the embodiment of non-violent protest Martin Luther King turn around and head the NRA?
“Perhaps clues can be found in the last act of Heston’s film career which is climaxed by Planet of the Apes, in which not only his heroric demeanor but physical self is brought low, and continues with the dystopian horror of Soylent Green.”
Death of an Axiom, Fablog, April 6, 2008 (The only Heston obit you’ll ever need!)
I can’t help it, Charlton Heston was sex on legs in “Ben Hur” and I love the whole galley slave rescuing the Roman admiral and making him row scenes. Woof. Subtext anyone?
Yeah, Gary Cooper was also a rightwingnut, and I like him, too. What is it with these beautiful men? Does it go to their heads? (Hey, write your own jokes.)