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A Greek artisan is commissioned to cast the cup of Christ in silver and sculpt around its rim the faces of the disciples and Jesus himself. He travels to Jerusalem and eventually to Rome to complete the task. Meanwhile, a nefarious interloper is trying to convince the crowds that he is the new Messiah by using nothing more than cheap parlor tricks. Written by
Pretty odd, pretty awful...Paul Newman's debut is best forgotten...
I have to agree with the negative comments on this one. First of all, let's begin with the good points. It got two Oscar nominations--one for William Skall's color cinematography and the other for Franz Waxman's tasteful background score. Indeed, the only tasteful thing about the film is that score.
PAUL NEWMAN at least doesn't have to be ashamed of how he photographed in color because he makes a handsome film debut (physically) but was apparently given no directions from Victor Saville on how to play the role of a man who worked on the framework for The Silver Chalice. His is a bland performance at best and it is undercut even more when he has to share the screen with the terribly miscast VIRGINIA MAYO.
Mayo looks as though she just left the chorus line of The Goldwyn Girls and had the artists paint her eyebrows in what someone must have assumed would resemble women of antiquity. She saunters around in her veiled costumes as though she is about to break out into a burlesque queen's rendition of a bump and grind song number.
JACK PALANCE steals the show with his overwrought, maniacal performance as a magician who begins to believe in his own ballyhoo (or his own press clippings) and thinks he can actually fly without any contraptions aiding his flight. Oddly enough, his caricature of a role fits into the scheme of things, seeing as how the stylized sets and costumes suggest nothing more than comic strip vision.
Adding to lack of credibility is the casting of NATALIE WOOD as the young Helena who turns into Mayo as an adult. Now that would take the work of a major magician. LORNE GREENE, in his film debut, and E.G. MARSHALL struggle with poorly defined roles in the supporting cast.
Summing up: Dismal. The only question is, what inspired Franz Waxman to write such a pleasing background score?
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