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Ben Hur


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#21 Cam Bert

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 10:31 PM

View Postgrudlian., on 24 May 2018 - 06:08 AM, said:

I so agree with Paul that this movie could be 40 minutes shorter with nothing really lost. I've seen a few of longer movies than this but this really, really drags. There is no sequence that couldn't be shorter.

I know this seems kind of weird but I would probably trim out most of the scenes with Jesus. The movie is about Ben-Hur and then, occasionally, we check in with what's going on with Jesus. Without the religious stuff, you could basically end up with Spartacus or something.

I agree completely with this. There are some nice moments to it all, like him giving him water, but after the epic nature of the race it just feels so slow. You're also asking the audience to care about his mom and sister who had what? 5 minutes maybe of screen time prior. I understand it is his motivation and all but I felt nothing for them. Given the fact that he is so motivated by revenge I think like Amy mentioned the shot of him looking out at the vast emptiness of the arena is more fitting and instead of rewarding his path of revenge you see the hollowness of it. You could have some scenes after that but the 40 forced B story is not the way to go.
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#22 Cam Bert

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 10:37 PM

I'm also very glad that they brought up the homosexual undertones of that first scene between Ben-Hur and Messala. When I was watching it felt so clear that these were two men who were in love that couldn't be together or had been separated. It is a shame that this aspect of it was so quickly abandoned. He just seemed so indifferent to him in other scenes rather than conflicted. It is odd to me that they allowed it to play that way in the first scene but then not in the others.
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#23 grudlian.

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 08:30 AM

View PostCameron H., on 25 May 2018 - 02:09 PM, said:

I completely agree with Paul that Heston looked to old to play the “young Ben-Hur.” I’ve been trying to think of someone I’d like better, and I think I would have maybe liked Rock Hudson. I know he’s only two years younger than Heston, but I think he would have been pretty good...

Posted Image

For some reason, I'm largely unfamiliar with Rock Hudson. I know him from reputation but I've seen almost nothing he's been in. I couldn't have even told you he was in the movies I've seen with him even though he's a major character. The only movie I would have sworn he was in (From Here To Eternity), he wasn't in at all. Looks like I have a major gap in my film knowledge that I need to rectify.

From this picture, he's definitely a better choice on looks alone.

View PostSusan*, on 25 May 2018 - 04:47 PM, said:

My mom attended a school in Indiana that was named after Lew Wallace. I ran across him when I was reading Civil War history.

I'm only a third of the way into the podcast, but the opening scene of Ben Her reminds me of the opening scene of the Life of Brian. I swear it's even the same soundtrack?

Isn't Life of Brian inspired a bit by Ben-Hur? I can't imagine the Pythons missed Ben-Hur completely when they came up with the idea of "movie where some other guy keeps running into Jesus".

#24 Susan*

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 12:26 PM

View Postgrudlian., on 26 May 2018 - 08:30 AM, said:

For some reason, I'm largely unfamiliar with Rock Hudson. I know him from reputation but I've seen almost nothing he's been in. I couldn't have even told you he was in the movies I've seen with him even though he's a major character. The only movie I would have sworn he was in (From Here To Eternity), he wasn't in at all. Looks like I have a major gap in my film knowledge that I need to rectify.

From this picture, he's definitely a better choice on looks alone.

Isn't Life of Brian inspired a bit by Ben-Hur? I can't imagine the Pythons missed Ben-Hur completely when they came up with the idea of "movie where some other guy keeps running into Jesus".

I saw a making of Life of Brian a long time ago and they said they mocked storylines from all the big bible epics, so I'm sure Ben-Hur was included.

It looks like they're doing the 10th anniversary list for this podcast, not the original. -- if they were doing the other list you and I both might have had a reason to see Rock Hudson in Giant. Because they're doing the 10th anniversary list, I still have two movies on the list I haven't seen -- but now it's Intolerance and Shawshank Redemption.

I'm pretty sure that Rock Hudson's best work was McMillan and Wife, but that show is completely looney. The wife is pregnant but later there's no baby. His wife then dies off screen (and he gets a new maid) even though his "wife" is sort of named in the title of the show.

#25 omaxem

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 12:35 PM

This is completely unrelated to the film ( Ben Hur + The Ten Commandments were staples of Portuguese Religious Holidays television, i've seen them so many times as a kid that i don't think i can take them seriously anymore ), but Amy... you're pretty cool. I don't know if that was a throwaway line or something you really feel, but just because you don't smoke pot doesn't mean that you're not cool. You are a cool person.

#26 Cameron H.

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 01:06 PM

I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that - while Ben-Hur is certainly a classic - it maybe shouldn’t be on the Top 100.

I thought it might be fun for us to “save” one of the 36 movies that didn’t make the 10th Anniversary List. So, of the 36 movies below, which one would you like to see reinstated in place of Ben-Hur?

AFI ABSOLUTION

Doctor Zhivago (1965)
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Amadeus (1984)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
The Third Man (1949)
Fantasia (1940)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Stagecoach (1939)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
An American in Paris (1951)
Wuthering Heights (1939)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Giant (1956)
Fargo (1996)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Frankenstein (1931)
Patton (1970)
The Jazz Singer (1927)
My Fair Lady (1964)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

There’s a lot to choose from, but personally, because of its epic nature - and my apparent preoccupation with Rock Hudson - I’d like to see Giant back on the list.
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#27 Cam Bert

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 02:22 PM

View PostCameron H., on 26 May 2018 - 01:06 PM, said:

I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that - while Ben-Hur is certainly a classic - it maybe shouldn’t be on the Top 100.

I thought it might be fun for us to “save” one of the 36 movies that didn’t make the 10th Anniversary List. So, of the 36 movies below, which one would you like to see reinstated in place of Ben-Hur?


First of all, Dances With Wolves? Really? Granted I haven't seen it in ages but, really?

Personally I would pick Fargo because it is so unique in it's tone and mood. All the actors are on top of their game creating very real characters. It's a weird blending of genres and setting in a part of the country rarely seen in film makes it feel different and unique. All those wonderful Roger Deakins shots. There are a lot of reason why this could go back on.

My backup would be The Third Man.
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#28 grudlian.

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 03:09 PM

View PostCam Bert, on 26 May 2018 - 02:22 PM, said:

My backup would be The Third Man.

This is definitely my pick but I'm surprised to see it considered American. I would consider it British. British writer, director, producer, released in the UK before the US. David O Selznick was a producer and out stars an American but ehhhhh... I think a few of these movies are questionably American.

If that doesn't count as an American film, I'd probably say Giant or Close Encounters.

#29 Cameron H.

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 03:33 PM

View Postgrudlian., on 26 May 2018 - 03:09 PM, said:


This is definitely my pick but I'm surprised to see it considered American. I would consider it British. British writer, director, producer, released in the UK before the US. David O Selznick was a producer and out stars an American but ehhhhh... I think a few of these movies are questionably American.

If that doesn't count as an American film, I'd probably say Giant or Close Encounters.


Regarding The Thin Man, apparently you’re not the only one who questions it’s “American-ness.”

Per Wikipedia:

Quote

On June 26, 1998, the Chicago Reader published an article by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum which offers a detailed response to the movies in the AFI list, as well as criticism of the AFI's appropriation of British films, such as Lawrence of Arabia and The Third Man. Rosenbaum also produced an alternative list of 100 American movies that he felt had been overlooked by the AFI.[1] Rosenbaum chose to present this alternative list alphabetically since to rank them according to merit would be "tantamount to ranking oranges over apples or declaring cherries superior to grapes."


I also get his point about listing them alphabetically rather than by ranking by “merit.”
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#30 grudlian.

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 04:24 PM

View PostCameron H., on 26 May 2018 - 03:33 PM, said:

I also get his point about listing them alphabetically rather than by ranking by “merit.”

I get his point as well. I've never been big on ranking things except maybe in small groups like a top 5. I prefer film lists being chronological but even that can lead to an implied growth or improvement over time.

I glanced through his list. It's interesting. I'm completely unfamiliar with several of the movies. As someone who looks at movie lists a lot, that's unusual. I don't know if he's purposefully choosing more obscure movies or maybe he just has different taste.

I'm glad Amy and Paul are choosing to not go in list order. I think that shuts down any "is this movie really better/worse than the last movie?" discussion that I find not particularly worthwhile.

#31 Cam Bert

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 04:55 PM

View Postgrudlian., on 26 May 2018 - 04:24 PM, said:

I get his point as well. I've never been big on ranking things except maybe in small groups like a top 5. I prefer film lists being chronological but even that can lead to an implied growth or improvement over time.

I glanced through his list. It's interesting. I'm completely unfamiliar with several of the movies. As someone who looks at movie lists a lot, that's unusual. I don't know if he's purposefully choosing more obscure movies or maybe he just has different taste.

I'm glad Amy and Paul are choosing to not go in list order. I think that shuts down any "is this movie really better/worse than the last movie?" discussion that I find not particularly worthwhile.

I was just looking at his list too and would be curious to hear the reasons behind some of them. You could argue that a lot of the AFI movies even if you haven't seen are movies you've heard of but some of his picks are completely new to me. Hallelujah I'm A Bum? Track of the Cat? Never heard of them. Also I find it sort of interesting to think about the AFI list the median year is 1965 while on his list the median year is 1953.
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#32 Susan*

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 06:00 PM

View PostCameron H., on 26 May 2018 - 01:06 PM, said:

I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that - while Ben-Hur is certainly a classic - it maybe shouldn’t be on the Top 100.

I thought it might be fun for us to “save” one of the 36 movies that didn’t make the 10th Anniversary List. So, of the 36 movies below, which one would you like to see reinstated in place of Ben-Hur?



For me it would be Fargo. It might be the best movie of the 1990s for me. Which is funny, because I didn't love it when I saw it in the theater for the first time.

And Close Encounters should replace E.T. :P

#33 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 11:25 PM

View PostCameron H., on 26 May 2018 - 01:06 PM, said:

I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that - while Ben-Hur is certainly a classic - it maybe shouldn’t be on the Top 100.

I thought it might be fun for us to “save” one of the 36 movies that didn’t make the 10th Anniversary List. So, of the 36 movies below, which one would you like to see reinstated in place of Ben-Hur?

AFI ABSOLUTION

Doctor Zhivago (1965)
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Amadeus (1984)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
The Third Man (1949)
Fantasia (1940)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Stagecoach (1939)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
An American in Paris (1951)
Wuthering Heights (1939)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Giant (1956)
Fargo (1996)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Frankenstein (1931)
Patton (1970)
The Jazz Singer (1927)
My Fair Lady (1964)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

There’s a lot to choose from, but personally, because of its epic nature - and my apparent preoccupation with Rock Hudson - I’d like to see Giant back on the list.


I haven't seen everything here, but from this list I'd say The Third Man is the best movie. I know there is some question of how much that is an "American" film, though. So of the purely American productions I'd go with Close Encounters.

#34 Cameron H.

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 04:36 AM

View Postsycasey 2.0, on 26 May 2018 - 11:25 PM, said:



I haven't seen everything here, but from this list I'd say The Third Man is the best movie. I know there is some question of how much that is an "American" film, though. So of the purely American productions I'd go with Close Encounters.


I really need to see The Third Man, huh?

I’m actually surprised Close Encounters isn’t on the updated list. When I saw it was one of the movies taken off, I had to double check sure that it wasn’t a mistake.
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#35 Susan*

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 06:55 AM

I count 23 movies on that list of omitted films not 36?

I hadn't thought about whether the movies were really American. Lawrence of Arabia feels super-British to me, though I have no idea who financed it. Same with Bridge on the River Kwai, though that has an American leading actor at least. I guess we're claiming David Lean for some puzzling reason? Or did they become "American" because they were academy award winners that were beloved by American audiences?

BTW, I'm so glad Guess Who's Coming to Dinner came off that list.

#36 Cameron H.

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 08:06 AM

View PostSusan*, on 27 May 2018 - 06:55 AM, said:

I count 23 movies on that list of omitted films not 36?

I hadn't thought about whether the movies were really American. Lawrence of Arabia feels super-British to me, though I have no idea who financed it. Same with Bridge on the River Kwai, though that has an American leading actor at least. I guess we're claiming David Lean for some puzzling reason? Or did they become "American" because they were academy award winners that were beloved by American audiences?

BTW, I'm so glad Guess Who's Coming to Dinner came off that list.


Hmmm...I copied that right from Wikipedia. I wonder what I missed...

You can keep Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner off the list, but can we at least keep this scene?


Chilly: I'm telling you, man, if we had management, we'd be riding around in limousines, wearing leather pants, and buying condos. Can I eat this roast beef?
Body Rock (1984)

Seb: Maybe you just liked me when I was on my ass 'cause it made you feel better about yourself.
La La Land (2016)

#37 grudlian.

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 08:25 AM

View PostCam Bert, on 26 May 2018 - 04:55 PM, said:

I was just looking at his list too and would be curious to hear the reasons behind some of them. You could argue that a lot of the AFI movies even if you haven't seen are movies you've heard of but some of his picks are completely new to me. Hallelujah I'm A Bum? Track of the Cat? Never heard of them. Also I find it sort of interesting to think about the AFI list the median year is 1965 while on his list the median year is 1953.

I think this is the difference between individual taste and collective taste. My top 100 is going to be different from everyone else's. When we combine everyone's lists, that's when we start seeing a homogenous list of great movies with Citizen Kane and Vertigo overlapping on on many lists. Since I don't know Jonathan Rosenbaum as a critic, his list (which has been expanded to over 1000 essential movies) doesn't hold much value to me the way Roger Ebert's or Mark Kermode's list might.

View PostSusan*, on 27 May 2018 - 06:55 AM, said:

I count 23 movies on that list of omitted films not 36?

I hadn't thought about whether the movies were really American. Lawrence of Arabia feels super-British to me, though I have no idea who financed it. Same with Bridge on the River Kwai, though that has an American leading actor at least. I guess we're claiming David Lean for some puzzling reason? Or did they become "American" because they were academy award winners that were beloved by American audiences?

BTW, I'm so glad Guess Who's Coming to Dinner came off that list.

A quick look through Wikipedia has some later David Lean movies as semi-joint productions between the UK and sometimes America. They'll list Horizon as the producer but call it a UK/USA movie. Doctor Zhivago is an MGM production but it's a UK/Italy movie. The only fully American production seems to be Summertime. So, I'm with you in the confusion.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner's racial politics are woefully dated. Sidney Poitier is basically the perfect man that anyone should be happy to have as a son-in-law. If he had been flawed in any way, it would have aged better. Now, it's just a well acted movie to make white people feel good about themselves.

#38 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 08:42 AM

View PostCameron H., on 27 May 2018 - 04:36 AM, said:

I really need to see The Third Man, huh?


Oh yes! Lots of iconic stuff in there.

Also a nice one to see after Citizen Kane, with Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles playing against each other again.

#39 grudlian.

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 08:46 AM

I'm curious how many other people watched a ton of Turner classic Movies in the 2000s. Here's a video they used to explain widescreen format using Ben-Hur as an example. Any time I think about Ben-Hur, I think of Sydney Pollack getting the heebie jeebies.



#40 Dan Engler

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Posted 27 May 2018 - 12:20 PM

I had to pause Ben-Hur and consult its plot summary on Wikipedia at one point, because the film abruptly cuts from a scene where the Emperor "frees" Judah to another where he's a five-time chariot champion with an apparent love interest and an adoptive father. I thought something was wrong with my copy of the film, but I guess I was supposed to infer that passage of time from a crossfade?

I disagree with suggestions that Jesus be cut in the interest of time. As an ex-Catholic raised on a steady diet of The Ten Commandments, the idea of The Bible happening just off-screen is hilarious (hence, Life of Brian.) There should have been more scenes of Jesus as a peripheral character; Judah walking past the Last Supper, Judas hanging himself in the background of an unrelated scene, etc.

Instead, cut all of the leper material. Miriam and Tirzah actually die in prison, Judah stumbles out into the empty chariot arena after Messala's death and realizes how hollow his vengeance is, so he chooses to embrace Christ's teachings rather than foment uprising against Rome. Same message without the additional 90 minutes of cruft.

Ultimately, I can't tell if Heston is any good because whenever he speaks I only hear Phil Hartman's impression of him from Saturday Night Live. "All we had was bananas, bananas, bananas."
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