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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.

Directors:

Fred Niblo, Charles Brabin (uncredited) | 3 more credits »

Writers:

Lew Wallace (novel) (as General Lew Wallace), June Mathis (adaptation) | 5 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ramon Novarro ... Ben-Hur
Francis X. Bushman ... Messala
May McAvoy ... Esther
Betty Bronson ... Mary
Claire McDowell ... Princess of Hur
Kathleen Key ... Tirzah
Carmel Myers ... Iras
Nigel De Brulier ... Simonides (as Nigel de Brulier)
Mitchell Lewis ... Sheik Ilderim
Leo White ... Sanballat
Frank Currier ... Arrius
Charles Belcher Charles Belcher ... Balthazar
Dale Fuller ... Amrah
Winter Hall ... Joseph
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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:

The Outstanding Attraction in America. The Greatest Wealth of Drama, Spectacle, Thrills, Awe Inspiring Magnitude, and Most Delicate Love Story ever presented in the History of the Theatres of the World. MIGHTY BEN-HUR See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 October 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur See more »

Filming Locations:

Anzio, Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,900,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$12,449,980
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Color (2-strip Technicolor) (nine sequences)| Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald became friendly with many of the cast and crew while in Rome revising his book "The Great Gatsby". They attended a cast/crew dinner on Christmas Eve, honoring director Fred Niblo and his wife Enid Bennett. Zelda, among others, signed one of the dinner menus, which became the possession of Carmel Myers, who played Iras in the film. The menu is now in the archives of the University of South Carolina library. See more »

Goofs

During the chariot race, in the wide shots of Messala, Ben-Hur is behind him, then the shots to Messala's right have his and Ben-Hur's horses neck-and-neck. See more »

Quotes

Iras: Curiosity consumes me! Why do you race as the Unknown Jew?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Thames Silent/Warner Home Video DVD alters several scenes:
  • In the Chariot Race, a titled exchange by Messala and the Greek driver, originally superimposed on a scene of a charging chariot, is changed to title cards on a black background.
  • In the Crucifixion, a close-up of Christ's nailed hand, gesturing a blessing before dying, is omitted.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Silent Film Masterpiece
10 January 2000 | by Ron OliverSee 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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