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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
James Dean was offered the role of Basil, the sculptor, but he and his agent thought the script was poor. Paul Newman, who was a finalist for the role of Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) that eventually was played by Dean and made him a star, took the role, which Newman later regretted. While shooting "East of Eden," Dean went over to visit Newman on the set of this film, where he met the love of his short life, Pier Angeli, Newman's co-star. See more »
[last lines, Peter is speaking about the Silver Chalice to Basil and Deborra, and he utters his lines in the tone of a heroic speech]
It will be restored, but for years and for hundreds of years, it will lie in darkness; where, I know not. When it is brought out into the light again there will be great cities, and mighty bridges and towers higher than the tower of Babel. It will be a world of evil and long bitter wars. In such a world as that the little cup will look very lonely. But it may be ...
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Golden Anniversary comments for The Silver Chalice
At 50 years of age this film should be categorized in the "cult" genre. Starting off a a biblical tale of how the cup from which Jesus drank is sculpted into a silver chalice it quickly turns into "The Rise and Fall of Simon the Magician". The chalice is finally lost and so is the storyline.
Paul Newman, as Basil the sculptor, makes his movie debut and is not all that bad considering the dialogue he had to work with. Jack Palance, as Simon, is simply superb. Insane and madly ambitious he portrays a magician who thinks he can become a "new and improved" version of Jesus. It's hard to accept the character of Helena first played by Natalie Wood as a young slave and then later by Virginia Mayo as a treacherous vixen. There are a host of familiar actors in supporting and minor roles. Notice Lorne Greene as St. Peter before he strapped on his gun and married three wives to found the Ponderosa. Also, in a quick moment, you'll notice Strother("What we have here is a failure to communicate")Martin as the father of the crippled child. See if you can find the rest. The sets are more prone for stage than screen. Huge columns, statues and archways with stairs and domed buildings and more stairs. Everything is incorrectly sterile and spotless. There is one light point when, at Nero's feast, a particular dish is described as "aged grasshoppers in honey fried to a golden brown". Not bad for 1st century AD. Maybe the "colonel" was a lot older then we thought. All in all it's a fun movie to watch. This film might have its drawbacks but Palance is worth it. See Jack fly.
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