BEN-HUR 1925
From the book of Lew Wallace


Ramon Novarro as Ben-Hur

Francis X. Bushman as Messala

May McAvoy as Esther

Betty Bronson as Mary

Claire McDowell as Princess of Hur

Kathleen Key as Tirzah

(incrustation: click on blue right button)



Look at the Crowd extras during chariot race
Reginald Barker
John Barrymore
Lionel Barrymore
Clarence Brown
Joan Crawford
Marion Davies
Douglas Fairbanks
George Fitzmaurice
Sidney Franklin
John Gilbert
Dorothy Gish
Lillian Gish
Samuel Goldwyn
Sid Grauman
Rupert Julian
Henry King
Harold Lloyd
Carole Lombard
Myrna Loy
Colleen Moore
Mary Pickford


After seeing again "Cleopatra" , I went on logically with "Ben-Hur", the 2011 collector's box set for the 50th anniversary. I discovered bonuses on the 3rd Bluray, the 1925 film offered, but a strange version, very pixelated, despite that I bit and suddenly thanks to the Internet I found a much better B&W version. My first surprise was the great similarity with Wyler's film, and I made this reflection throughout the film.

The second surprise was the incredible realism of the naval battle with this superb galley, the spectacular ramming and fighting, damn it , made that in the 20s !! impressive ! Then as usual in this period, actors and actresses are splendid, even if Ramon Novarro who is excellent cann't compete with the monstrous Charlton Heston.

On the other hand, on the contrary, the Messala of 1925 is much more remarkable, what a beast! and there he comfortably outclasses Stephen Boyd. Delicious surprise, scenes are colorized, including the birth of Jesus or some major scenes, the sudden appearances of colors make the most beautiful effect.

But the big slap is the chariot race. First the circus is incredible, what a setting! Messala's outfit and his winged helmet became cult. I expected a dominance of wide and distant shots and a few rare close-ups. On the contrary, we find everythings we already know from the 1959 film.

Side track shots, with horses lined up, close-ups of the pilots, the wheels, there are even views from below. Gee! it is breathtaking, Niblo has simply invented everything! Stunts with eliminations of opponents, rescue, etc ... We find the famous scene of the whip and then the chariot's wheels hooked until the victory of Ben-Hur.

I was amazed to discover all of this and I told myself that Wyler, 34 years later had not gone too far in terms of imagination and realization. Finally it was still 2h24 without dead time and a 1959 film that we can qualify as copy/paste even if it is obviously excellent.
As you know, You must return to Cesar what belongs to Cesar ! So the Ben-Hur Masterpiece is Niblo's One ! Emperor of Hollywood

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