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Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

8.1
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A Jewish prince seeks to find his family and revenge himself upon his childhood friend who had him wrongly imprisoned.

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, (uncredited) , 3 more credits »

Writers:

(by), (adaptation), 5 more credits »
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Title: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
...
...
...
Kathleen Key ...
...
Iras
Nigel De Brulier ...
Simonides (as Nigel de Brulier)
Mitchell Lewis ...
Leo White ...
Sanballat
Frank Currier ...
Arrius
Charles Belcher ...
Dale Fuller ...
Winter Hall ...
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

THIS MIGHTY SPECTACULAR PICTURE WILL BURN ITS WAY INTO YOUR MEMORY TO LAST FOREVER! (contemporaneous print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 October 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,900,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$9,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(2-strip Technicolor) (some sequences)| (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film had an "extra" cast like no other. Many Hollywood stars showed up on set to watch the shooting and were pressed into service as extras, especially in the chariot race. In addition, many who would later become Hollywood's top stars, but who were at the time just struggling actors, were also in the crowd scenes as extras. Among well-known and soon-to-be-well-known names "working" in the film were John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Gary Cooper, Marion Davies, Myrna Loy, John Gilbert, Douglas Fairbanks, Clark Gable, Harold Lloyd, Carole Lombard, Janet Gaynor, Fay Wray, Mary Pickford, Colleen Moore, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Samuel Goldwyn and Rupert Julian. See more »

Goofs

Camera visible during the chariot race. See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Captivating silent epic
5 June 2008 | by (prejudicemadeplausible.wordpress.com) – See all my reviews

This much lesser-known version of the Ben-Hur story from 1925 was the most expensive silent film ever made and benefits greatly from MGM's ability at the time to make films that looked amazingly grand and epic and still somehow manage to today. Even after seeing William Wyler's 1959 version and even with the advancements of modern CGI, the 83 year old "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" still looks unbelievably impressive with its massive sets and thousands of extras.

The mythos that has surrounded "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" among film buffs over the years has reached a status almost as grand as the film itself. The deaths, bribes, and other stories surrounding the movie and in particular the famous chariot race sequence do nothing to detract from the film (although they do distract one from it) but instead increase one's fascination with the production. I'm not sure if there are any comprehensive books written on the film but I must seek one out eventually.

The story doesn't need to be discussed because everyone knows it. It's an entertaining story that's really quite hard to do wrong and this movie is more entertaining and exciting than any other version I've seen. The theatricality demanded from silent film enhances the nature and feel of the story.

This film was directed by Fred Niblo, famous for the Douglas Fairbanks vehicles "The Mark of Zorro" and the inferior "The Three Musketeers" and also director of several memorable silent films such as Greta Garbo vehicles "The Temptress" and "The Mysterious Lady" as well as "The Red Lily", an absolutely brilliant film by 1924 standards that is sadly hard to get a hold of (except on Turner Classic Movies which shows it on occasion). Niblo lost his way in the sound era but is on top form here directing this massive production. Of course, the chariot race deserves all its fame and recognition and remains exciting, vibrant, and captivating to this day.

The restoration on the DVD released in the four-DVD set released in celebration of the 1959 film is spectacular as usual from the Turner team with the original (and well-chosen) tints and the exceptional Technicolor sequences restored. The film is in the public domain so I expect there must be some form of cheap black & white only copy which I urge anybody reading this to avoid watching. Another reason to watch this restored version is the terrific score by Carl Davis performed by the London Philharmonic orchestra.

As good as William Wyler and Charlton Heston are, I'll take this Fred Niblo and Ramon Novarro over the 1959 version any day. A thrilling, captivating silent epic and one of the great silent American films.

9/10


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