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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.


, (uncredited) | 3 more credits »


(by) (as General Lew Wallace), (adaptation) | 5 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Simonides (as Nigel de Brulier)
Mitchell Lewis ...
Leo White ...
Frank Currier ...
Charles Belcher ...


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




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 October 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,900,000 (estimated)


$9,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (restored)

Sound Mix:


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

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first attempt to film the chariot race was on a set in Rome, but there were problems with shadows and the racetrack surface. Then one of the chariots' wheels came apart and the stuntman driving it was thrown in the air and killed. See also Ben-Hur (1959). See more »


At one point in the chariot race a man in modern clothing - light-colored shirt, long pants, dark shoes - can be seen running out of the crowd onto the track and waving his arms at the camera. That was assistant director William Wyler, who saw that one of the chariots - out of camera range - was approaching the curve of the track too fast and Wyler was signaling the director to have the crew cleaning up a crashed chariot to get out of the way. See more »


Jesus Christ: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another.
See more »


Referenced in Kings of the Road (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

Silent Film Masterpiece
10 January 2000 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

Subtitled "A Tale of the Christ", this mixture of piety & adventure was MGM's grandest silent picture. The story tells how a Hebrew prince defies his Roman masters by beating them at their own game, literally, while becoming increasingly aware that the young Carpenter he met in Nazareth is the very Son of God and how that knowledge changes his life.

Years in the making, with filming in Italy & California, and changes of script and leading man, BEN HUR could have been a disaster. Instead, it was a complete triumph, with the naval battle and chariot race scenes holding their own among the best ever filmed. This film should not be compared with the Heston remake; it stands completely on its own merits.

For decades, the only known prints of this film were 90 minutes long, in black & white. By great good fortune, in the 1980's an uncut version, over 2 hours and with the original tints and Technicolor scenes was discovered in Czechoslovakia. This is what we are able to enjoy today.

Ramon Novarro got the plum male role of the entire silent period . He was a very fine actor and is excellent as Ben Hur. Sadly, the rest of his film career, in which he was typecast in every sort of ethnic role, from Chinese to Polynesian to Arab to Navajo, is virtually forgotten today.

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