4.6/10
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49 user 15 critic

The Silver Chalice (1954)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 20 December 1954 (USA)
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 ... See full summary »

Director:

Victor Saville

Writers:

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

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Cast

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 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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

EVERY BREATHLESS MOMENT OF THOMAS B. COSTAIN'S BEST-SELLER! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 December 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Basilus - Held von Rom See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 (1955), Dean went over to visit Newman on the set of this film, where he met the love of his short life, Pier Angeli. See more »

Goofs

(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 »

Quotes

Saint Peter: [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 ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

and introducing Paul Newman See more »

Connections

Referenced in James Dean (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nero's "he didn't fly" can also be applied to this film
10 January 2015 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Okay, The Silver Chalice is not that terrible, but considering the talent it was a huge disappointment and saw the worst work and films of almost everybody involved(apart from Jack Palance, he was in the Gor films and that bizarre Treasure Island adaptation).

The Silver Chalice does have some good things. William V Skall's cinematography and Franz Waxman's score were nominated for Oscars and the nominations were deserving, the cinematography is beautiful and makes the most of the spectacle while the music positively sweeps, is lushly orchestrated in distinctive Waxman fashion and gives the film heart and pace. Jack Palance is enormously entertaining and maniacal as magician Simon, it's over the top- but you can say that that was in comparison to the rest of the performances- but in a deliciously gleeful way. Pier Angeli gives a heartfelt performance as well and Simon's flying off the sky scraping Tower of Babel is an unforgettable scene and close to being the highlight of the film.

Paul Newman on the other hand is very wooden and ill-at-ease in his role, it is his debut(one that is understandably one he'd rather forget) but he was an amazing talent in acting and that did not come through here. Virginia Mayo is alluring but looks completely and utterly lost and Natalie Wood is quite charming but her acting is bland compared to her usual performances. Joseph Wiseman and Lorne Greene are largely wasted(Greene at least though had his concluding narration that was mildly powerful). They are hindered by very sketchily written characters and as dreary and stilted a script as you can get where the one memorable line is Nero's "he didn't fly"(for me it is one of, perhaps THE worst script for a biblical film). Victor Saville's direction never comes to life and the story feels overlong, stodgy and over-stretched with scenes that are either stagy, superfluous or unintentionally funny(some also like the fighting over the gown and with the dancers that would be better belonging somewhere else). The costumes are the opposite of lavish, rather a hodge-podge with some not fitting at all with the setting, with Palance donning the weirdest costumes of his whole career(especially the last one, admittedly he does wear them well). The make-up goes well over-the-top, Mayo is caked in it and it cheapens her looks, it's that ridiculous, and while a few sets are amazing most are bizarrely stylised that it gives the film a cheap look.

In conclusion, The Silver Chalice is not a terrible film with the cinematography, score and Palance making it halfway watchable, but as a whole it, like Simon, didn't fly with everybody involved deserving far better than this. 4/10 Bethany Cox


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