MOSES, MEL, AND ME

Before I put a finger on the keyboard, I admit this is probably heresy, at least to some people. On this day of days, one simply doesn’t make fun of religious movies.

But I do.

Last night, Marilyn and I had our traditional viewing of “The Ten Commandments.” Cecil B was, again, going for life-altering moments. But really, he gave us much-needed laughter. It isn’t a movie that has stood up well to the years. Time tested it — and found it wanting.

Heston-Charlton-Ten-Commandments

Today’s lineup of movies on our favorite cable station includes almost all of the familiar biblical movies. Few stand the test of time. Some are really well intended like George Stevens’, “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. But the man who gave us classics like “Shane”, “A Place In The Sun” and “Giant”, wound up with a ponderous and static film in “The Greatest Story”. It’s biggest sin? Boring.

As I write, we are watching Mel Brooks’, “History of the World-Part One” which is the perfect antidote to historical films that have become parodies or that were really never good. We probably have a greater appreciation of history because of Mel’s equal opportunity insults rather than the cardboard epics which play fast and loose with facts.

Mel Brooks last supper

I must admit I love watching gladiator movies. It’s a guy thing like war films.  I also enjoy seeing semi clad (or even less clad) young women engaging us in erotic dances before evil monarchs who are not playing with a full deck. But we’re not talking about great cinema here.

Charlton “call me Chuck” Heston was really honest when he talked about playing Moses. He told me it was a good gig. Working with Cecil B. DeMille (for a second time) was nice for his résumé. It actually gave him a boost for a religious film he really wanted to do.

“Ben Hur” is one of the best religious films out of Hollywood. It stands the test of time because of William Wyler’s fine direction. And, yes, the chariot race alone is still worth the price of admission.

history-of-the-world--part-1

This is obviously subjective stuff. If you love Cecil B’s heavy-handed narration of his version of the Old Testament, so let it be written. So let it be done,

We’re back with Mel. Now, it’s the French Revolution and those generously endowed girls are displaying their charms. It’s good to be the king!

Author: Garry Armstrong

As a reporter for Channel 7 in Boston for 31 years, I was witness to most of the major events affecting the region. I met a lot of people ... politicians, actors, moguls, criminals and many regular folks caught up in extraordinary situations. Sometimes, I write about the people I've met and places I've been. Sometimes, I write about life, my family, my dogs and me. Or what might otherwise be called Life.

35 thoughts on “MOSES, MEL, AND ME”

  1. I don’t watch most of the old Christian epics anymore. You’re both right about The Ten Commandments. Some films get better with time. Others …
    But Ben Hur is still great – a spiritually inspired movie. You can feel it. And just great movie making all the way around. So I can still watch it again and admire it.
    Have a nice Easter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my feckless youth, I called it “Ben Him”. I mentioned this to Charlton Heston. He didn’t smile. He usually smiled.
      Tonight, another seasonal viewing. “Easter Parade”.

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  2. We always seem to have “The Robe” at Easter on the TV, but I was reading a book and Mr. Swiss had DVD’d “Broadstairs”, 2nd part, from the BBC. The only glimpse of sandles and togas was five minutes of Ben Hur with Charlten Heston before we switched over or off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recall seeing “The Robe” when it originally opened in 1953. The first feature film released in Cinemascope. It was a religious experience, especially when I saw Jean Simmons on the BIG screen.

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      1. Funny you should say that. It was in the days when mum would take me to the cinema now and again because we didn’t have a TV. I also remember it being the first cinemascope. I must have been 8 years old at the time.

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  3. When I was seven or so the Robe came out. It was nearly a law in the Catholic Church that you Went To See “The Robe”. I was one of those (and still am) annoyingly sensitive movie goers, and at that age even Bambi did me in. When they got to the Crucifixion with the clanging of the hammers and the hands being nailed to the cross, I was numb with horror. Seven is really too young for that.
    I never told anyone, But it sorta put me off of Epic Movies for good. I still can’t watch Bambi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like Captain Oveur, I still enjoy a good sword ‘n sandals flick. Especially if it has scantily clad. well endowed women goading the sweaty, beefy gladiators to whack each other to pieces.

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    1. The parting of the sea in Ten Commandments is still one of the high points of special effects. Without computers and CGI, it was an amazing accomplishment. Despite recognizing its flaws and hokeyness (sp?), we have an affection for the movie. We’ve seen it a zillion times and we still watch it every year. Sometimes twice.

      Ben Hur is a good movie, even after all these years. Hollywood is remaking it and redoing the chariot race … like the original … with real horses and chariots. It’s a very dangerous piece of stunt work. Apparently they are trying to do it this time without anyone dying in the process (two stunt people lost their lives in the original filming). I’ll be curious to see what they do with it, but I don’t know why they are bothering. Why not remaster and re-release the original?

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  4. Some of those old movies really are a stretch. The James Bond movies at first were intended to be serious but they were really quite funny. Time changes our view on things.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m looking for my copy of “Solomon and Sheba”. Gina Lollobrigdia gives a MESmerizing (Gasp!) performance. It killed Tyrone Power who was replaced by Yul “Call me Rameses” Brynner.

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