Apr 6, 2008
The first film I saw Charlton Heston in was "The Greatest Show on Earth", which gave me nightmares about trains for months. I couldn't have been more than 7. I don't know how many times I have seen "The Ten Commandments". Even today there seems a reverence about it that many Biblical epics have lacked [along with considerable kitsch]. Who knew De Mille was a gnostic? ("In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was Light..."
"Ben Hur" never impressed me the way it did most folks, maybe its Christian message was the problem. And, while I liked a lot of Heston's later films ("El Cid" had me off on a medieval jag for quite a time), but not enough to want to see them again, three roles stand out for me: General Charles Gordon in "Khartoum", in which he played, with a certain irony, the part of a man who believed himself to be bigger than life, and the eponymous role in "The Private War of Major Benson", in which he displayed an unexpected talent for comedy, and lastly, as the head of the troop of players in Ken Branagh's "Hamlet" --in which of course, he was an actor playing an actor, and at the end of his career.
I feel like an era has ended. They don't make actors like him any more.