Sunday, April 4, 2010

This week's poll: What is your favorite Biblical epic of the sound era?

Inspired by ABC's annual Easter weekend broadcast of The Ten Commandments, this week's poll asks Cafe readers to pick their favorite Biblical epic of the sound era. The candidates:

Ben-Hur (1959) - William Wyler's big budget version of Lew Wallace's novel racked up a then-record 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It cemented Charlton Heston's status as the star of big screen spectacles and thrilled audiences with a chariot race for the ages.

King of Kings (1961) - Jeffrey Hunter gave one of his best performances in Nicholas Ray's remake of Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 silent film. Hunter plays Jesus in this film that starts with his birth and ends with his crucifixion and resurrection.

The Robe (1953) - This adaptation of Lloyd C. Douglas's best-seller was the first film released in CinemaScope. Richard Burton, who earned an Oscar nomination, plays the Roman soldier who becomes a Christian--but Jean Simmons is every bit as good. Victor Mature reprised his role of a former slave in a sequel called Demetrius and the Gladiators.

Quo Vadis (1951) - Against the backdrop of Nero's tyranny, Robert Taylor stars as a Roman soldier who falls in love with a Christian played by Deborah Kerr. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Leo Genn and Peter Ustinov in the supporting actor category, but won none.

The Sign of the Cross (1932) - Cecil B. DeMille's adaptation of Wilson Barrett's stage play bears many similarities to the novel Quo Vadis (both were written in 1895). Fredric March plays the Roman military leader who falls in love with a Christian woman. Charles Laughton was Nero and Claudette Colbert was the jealous Poppaea.

The Ten Commandments (1956) - Charlton Heston led an all-star cast in Cecil B. DeMille's remake of his own 1923 film focusing on Moses. Some critics claim the performances border on camp (especially Anne Baxter and Edward G. Robinson, who does seem out of place)...but the parting of the Red Sea is still a neat effect.

As always, any comments about omissions are welcomed. But please vote for one of the six above in the green sidebar at the right!


  1. I predict this will be a two-way race, but I would be interested to see if anyone picks any of the others.

  2. Tom, for me, the easy choice is THE ROBE. Burton and Simmons make a terrific duo and their closing scene always gets to me.

  3. Rick, I haven't seen all of these entries. The chariot race in "Ben-Hur" is quite unforgettable. And the effect of the parting of the Red Sea is captivating in "The Ten Commandments" although I think it was much more spectacular in real life because it is possible up to three million people passed through to safety. But, of the choices listed, I have a definite fondness for "The Robe."

  4. Deinitely Ben Hur.BTW:There's a little community in Limestone County,Texas(Near Waco)named Ben Hur.

    Been through there a few times:Just a couple of abandoned stores and a few houses.

    Now as to King of Kings:Jeff Hunter made a fairly decent Christ the Lord.
    Plus he was very good in two John Ford Westerns:
    1961's"Sergeant Rutledge"and 1956's"The Searchers"(My all time fave movie BTW)with The Duke and Natalie Wood.

    And he was in the 1965 pilot of Star Trek as Captain Christopher Pike.
    However,when NBC picked it up the next year,they got a little known Jewish Canadian Actor named William Shatner to play Cap'n James T.Kirk instead!!

    When Fox brought back"Family Guy"in 2004,Stewie Griffin made a comment about it:
    "Jeffrey Hunter played Christ the Lord in 1961's
    'King of Kings'as well as appearing in a couple of classic westerns directed by John Ford!!
    He was in the pilot of Star Trek as Captain Christopher Pike!!
    Yet they replaced him with William Shatner!!
    Now if Jeff Hunter was good enough to play Christ Our Saviour,Whay wasn't he good enough to command the Starship Enterprise??!!".