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The Silver Chalice (1954)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 20 December 1954 (USA)
2:54 | Trailer
Paul Newman - in his screen debut - plays a 1st-century Greek sculptor who is sold into slavery.


Victor Saville


Thomas B. Costain (novel), Lesser Samuels (written for the screen by)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Virginia Mayo ... Helena
Pier Angeli ... Deborra
Jack Palance ... Simon The Magician
Paul Newman ... Basil
Walter Hampden ... Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph Wiseman ... Mijamin
Alexander Scourby ... Luke
Lorne Greene ... Peter
David J. Stewart ... Adam
Herbert Rudley ... Linus
Jacques Aubuchon ... Nero
E.G. Marshall ... Ignatius
Michael Pate ... Aaron Ben Joseph
Natalie Wood ... Helena as a Girl
Peter Raynolds Peter Raynolds ... Basil as a boy


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. 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 Dan Weckerly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


I bid you seek the lost Silver Cup... for Sin is rising like the swollen rivers... See more »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


This film received a huge premiere in Saranac Lake, New York. The premiere was a "prize" to the town that sold the most Christmas Seals in a countrywide competition. The weekend consisted of a parade with the director and stars of the movie (with the exception of Paul Newman, who did not attend), and a gala premiere at the Pontiac Theatre in Saranac Lake hosted by Art Linkletter. See more »


(at around 1 min) Basil and Deborra enter the set from behind the cut, painted, and layered scenery, completely spoiling the intended trompe l'oeil effect of rooftop domes. See more »


Simon The Magician: A true miracle is nothing but a good trick.
See more »

Crazy Credits

and introducing Paul Newman See more »

User Reviews

Failed slice of Biblical history about a sculptor who fashions a holder for the Silver Chalice used in the Last Supper
4 June 2014 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Epic and religious story based on a novel by Thomas Costain and dealing with the momentous deeds that befall a young Greek artisan called Basil (film debut of Paul Newman , though James Dean was offered the character, but he and his agent thought the script was poor) is commissioned to cast the cup of Christ in silver and sculpt around its rim the faces of the disciples (Lucas played by Alexander Scourby , Peter acted by Lorne Greene ..) and Jesus himself . Later on , he returns Rome where he meets Apostle Peter .

This Biblical extravaganza turns out to be a religious mammoth epic and focuses a moving Roman pageant dealing with a Greek sculptor , following his stirring career , spiritual awakening and reaches an exciting peak at the ending . This is a spectacular but failed portrayal of Biblical Hollywoodiana in which only flashes of the brilliance to come emerge from some amazing scenes . In its way , it was Warner Brother's answer to ¨The robe¨, being a misfire in which about to go bankrupt the production company . It has marvelous images , spectacular scenes , average performances as well as a lot of cast of thousands . However , the picture resulted to be a bloated , turgid Biblical epic , a real failure at box office . When the film ran on television in 1966, Paul Newman , who was a little wooden , took out ads in the Hollywood trade papers, and in Variety magazine , calling it "the worst motion picture produced during the 1950s," apologizing for his performance, and asking people not to watch the film . Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect, and many people tuned in to watch it on TV . Newman once screened the movie for friends at his home, giving them whistles , pots, and wooden spoons, and encouraging them to make noisy critiques of the film. 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 . A 15-year-old Natalie Wood who interprets Mayo's role when younger gives sensitive acting , though brief . The best acting comes , indeed , from Virginia Mayo as helper to Simon the Magician performed by an overacted Jack Palance . The supporting cast also includes E.G. Marshall as Ignatius , Michael Pate as Aaron Ben Joseph , Ian Wolfe as Theron , Lawrence Dobkin as Ephraim , Walter Hampden as Joseph of Arimathea , Joseph Wiseman as Mijamin and Albert Dekker as Kester . Furthermore , film acting debut of Lorne Greene and Robert Middleton . Alexander Scourby, who plays St. Luke, was known for his deep, rich voice and later became the first person to read and record the entire King James version of the Bible on records.

Sensitive and lyric musical score by the classic Franz Waxman . Colorful and glamorous Cinematography by William V. Skall . Strange and innovative production design by Rolf Gerard , including monumental as well as rare sets , in theatrical style . The motion picture was regularly directed , this was final film as director for Victor Saville . He moved to Hollywood in 1939, where he acted primarily as producer, though he did direct one more A-grade film , Green Dolphin Street (1947). He directed several movies such as Storm in a Teacup , South Reading , If Winter comes , Calling Bulldog Drummond and especially his successful ¨Kim ¨. Though briefly touted as a possible successor to Louis B. Mayer at MGM, the massive critical and artistic failure of a decidedly stodgy and miscast biblical epic, The Silver Chalice (1954), hastened Saville's eventual retirement from the industry .

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Release Date:

20 December 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Silver Chalice See more »


Box Office


$4,500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (cut) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (magnetic prints)| Mono (RCA Sound System) (optical prints)


Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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