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Ben-Hur Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

This 1959 version of Lew Wallace's best-selling novel, which had already seen screen versions in 1907 and 1926, went on to win 11 Academy Awards. Adapted by Karl Tunberg and a raft of uncredited writers including Gore Vidal and Maxwell Anderson, the film once more recounts the tale of Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), who lives in Judea with his family during the time that Jesus Christ was becoming known for his "radical" teachings. Ben-Hur's childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) is now an ambitious Roman tribune; when Ben-Hur refuses to help Messala round up local dissidents on behalf of the emperor, Messala pounces on the first opportunity to exact revenge on his onetime friend. Tried on a trumped-up charge of attempting to kill the provincial governor (whose head was accidentally hit by a falling tile), Ben-Hur is condemned to the Roman galleys, while his mother (Martha Scott) and sister (Cathy O'Donnell) are imprisoned. But during a sea battle, Ben-Hur saves the life of commander Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins), who, in gratitude, adopts Ben-Hur as his son and gives him full control over his stable of racing horses. Ben-Hur never gives up trying to find his family or exact revenge on Messala. At crucial junctures in his life, he also crosses the path of Jesus, and each time he benefits from it. The highlight of the film's 212 minutes is its now-legendary chariot race, staged largely by stunt expert Yakima Canutt. Ben-Hur's Oscar haul included Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary William Wyler, Best Actor for Heston, and Best Supporting Actor for Welsh actor Hugh Griffith as an Arab sheik. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:November 18, 1959

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
National Board of Review Hugh Griffith Best Supporting Actor 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Hugh Griffith Best Supporting Actor 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Hugh Hunt Best Color Art Direction 1959 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Andrew Marton Best Film - Any Source 1959 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Andrew Marton Special Achievement 1959 Winner
National Board of Review Andrew Marton Special Citation 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Milo Lory Best Special Effects 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Ralph Winters Best Editing 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Charlton Heston Best Actor 1959 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charlton Heston Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Miklos Rozsa Best Drama or Comedy Score 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Robert Surtees Best Color Cinematography 1959 Winner
British Academy of Film and Television Arts William Wyler Best Film - Any Source 1959 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association William Wyler Best Director 1959 Winner
Directors Guild of America William Wyler Best Director 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences William Wyler Best Director 1959 Winner
National Board of Review Yakima Canutt Special Citation 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Karl Tunberg Best Adapted Screenplay 1959 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Stephen Boyd Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Edward C. Carfagno Best Color Art Direction 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Arnold A. Gillespie Best Special Effects 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sam Zimbalist Best Picture 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Haffenden Best Color Costume Design 1959 Nominee

Cast

Charlton Heston
as Judah Ben Hur
Stephen Boyd
as Messala
Jack Hawkins
as Quintus Arrius
Haya Harareet
as Esther
Hugh Griffith
as Sheik Ilderim
Martha Scott
as Miriam
Sam Jaffe
as Simonides
Cathy O'Donnell
as Tirzah
Finlay Currie
as Balthasar
Frank Thring
as Pontius Pilate
Terence Longdon
as Drusus
Andre Morell
as Sextus
Marina Berti
as Flavia
George Relph
as Tiberius
Adi Berber
as Malluch
Stella Vitelleschi
as Amrah
Jose Greci
as Virgin Mary
John Horsley
as Spintho
Duncan Lamont
as Marius
Ralph Truman
as Aide to Tiberius
Richard Hale
as Gaspar
Dervis Ward
as Jailer
Mino Doro
as Gratus
Robert Brown
as Chief of Rowers
Emilio Carrer
as Rower No. 28
Tutte Lemkow
as Leper
Howard Lang
as Hortator
John Le Mesurier
as Doctor
Stevenson Lang
as Blind Man
Hector Ross
as Officer
Enzo Fiermonte
as Galley Officer
Tiberio Mitri
as Roman at Bath
Pietro Tordi
as Pilate's Servant
Cliff Lyons
as Lublon
Joe Yrigoyen
as Egyptian
Joe Canutt
as Sportsman
Raimondo Van Riel
as Old Man
Karl Tunberg
Ferdinand "Ferdy" Mayne
as Captain of Rescue Ship
John Glen
as Rower No. 42
John Zaccaro

Crew

William Wyler
Director
Sam Zimbalist
Producer
Karl Tunberg
Screenwriter
Lew Wallace
Book Author
Robert Surtees
Cinematographer
Miklos Rozsa
Composer (Music Score)
Ralph Winters
Editor
Edward C. Carfagno
Production Designer
Elizabeth Haffenden
Costume Designer
Arnold A. Gillespie
Special Effects
Andrew Marton
First Assistant Director
Milo Lory
Visual Effects
Harold Michelson
Storyboard
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