Before I put a finger on the keyboard, I admit this is probably heresy, at least to some people. One simply doesn’t make fun of religious movies. It is simply not done. Especially not these days.

But I do.

Last night, Marilyn and I watched “The Ten Commandments.” We don’t watch it for its high level of religious sentimentality. While Cecil B was going for life-altering moments, he gave us some much-needed laughter. It isn’t a movie that has stood up well to the years. Time tested it — and found it wanting.


Every year when some big religious holiday rolls around, the lineup of movies on our favorite cable stations includes all the familiar biblical movies. Few are watchable even a few years past their shelf date, much less stand ye olde test of time. Most are obviously 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.” Its biggest sin? Boring. Truly dull.

As I write, we are watching Mel Brooks’, “History of the World-Part One.” This movie is the perfect antidote to historical films that have become parodies or which were not really all that good in the first place. 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

The Last Supper – by Evil Squirrel

I must admit I love watching gladiator movies. It’s a guy thing, like war films.  I also enjoy seeing semi-clad (or even lesser clad) young women engaging us in erotic dances before evil monarchs who are not playing with a full deck. 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 good for his résumé. It gave him a boost for the religious epic he really wanted to do — “Ben Hur.”

“Ben Hur” is one of the few good religious films to come out of Hollywood. William Wyler’s fine direction and brilliantly done stunts using real live (and one who died) human being — were spectacular. No computer generation. It hadn’t been invented. The chariot race alone is worth the price of admission.


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. Meanwhile, we’re back with Mel. 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.


  1. All Hail the King! (of Comedic Satire Movies) 😉

    I’m noticing less and less the tendency of local TV channels to air religious holiday movies – Sign o’ The Times! (Not that i was ever much of a fan of them anyway)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob, TCM usually runs a glut of “holiday appropriate” films. Right now, they’re running a bunch of monster movies including the old classic Universal flicks with Boris, Bela, Lon and the gang. I think you have to go to your local “oldies” channel/s to find holiday themed movies. These channels program stuff for people like us. I always look for “Sign of the Pagan” around Easter. It was pre-censor 1932. Great bathing scenes. You can see Claudette Colbert’s ample boobies as she does a milk bath. Great cinematography, of course.


      1. You Rascal! 😉

        Our TV is a shadow of yours it would seem – Oldies Channel?? No Such thing here Bud. 😦

        We get around 25 channels spread between 5 basic networks who all do basically the same thing to try to get the ratings.

        Maybe one station might have one channel that shows any sort of christian movie or program on religious holidays other than Christmas. Then it might be two or three and they will mostly be comedies like ‘Deck the Halls’ more than the classics. 😦

        Australia has gone to great lengths to be inclusively multicultural (even to the point of now considering changing the date of our National Day to appease the Aborigines who call it ‘invasion day’ – could you imaging moving July 4th to another date because it offends native Americans? or more accurately your originally British citizens for kicking them out in 1776?)

        The trend to have more citizens who do not celebrate Christian festivals and the decreasing popularity of any religion here means TV does not tend to cater for it the way it once did.

        WE do have a station that often plays movies from the 30’s and occasionally the 20’s though, but i’ve yet to see Sign of the Pagan! 😉

        Now i’ll have to watch out for it…. for the cinematography of course! 😉



  2. You have to admit, though. Chuck has a great head and face full of hair as Moses. But what are those curly-cues on the tablets he’s holding? They look like algebra equations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recognise some Ancient Greek – Psi, Delta, Phi.

      Interesting because Chuck led ‘his’ people out of Egypt some half a millennium before the Greek Empire started so i’m fairly certain God would not have been Instructing them in the Greek language. But Hey – it’s a histerical – sorry Historical – fiction movie!

      If they were algebraic equations that could help explain why next to no-one has bothered understanding them or stuck to applying them for 3 000 years! 😉


      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure you did. Any of them wearing wigs? Marilyn seemed pretty incensed over the rug Chuck was wearing! 🙂


    1. Leslie, Chuckie was in his prime when he did “Ben Hur”. He told me about his reluctance to do “The Big Country” in 1958. He had already gotten top billing in “The Ten Commandments” in ’56. They wanted him to take 4th billing behind Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons and Carroll Baker in “The Big Country.” Chuckie said director William “Willie” Wyler pulled him aside and told him to take the lesser part because he had a really BIG movie for Chuckie coming up. Somebody leaked word about “Ben Hur” and Chuckie graciously agreed to the supporting role in “The Big Country”. It was a good film and he had a nice role. His long fistfight with Peck is one of the best ever. Chuckie told me Peck was a good guy and they became friends even though they differed on politics. BTW: Leslie—have you ever seen Chuckie as “Will Penny”?? I think THAT is his best screen work. He was very proud of it — my knowledge of it cemented our “friendship”. Marilyn met Chuckie at a publicity luncheon for “Midway”. He was very gracious and kissed Marilyn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I missed “Will Penny”. I must correct something I said. It was Spartacus that made me cry not Ben Hur. That would have been Kirk Douglas. Both of them were pretty hot in their prime.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Leslie, “Spartacus” was well done. The final scene is, indeed, 3 hankies. “Will Penny” is an under appreciated western and Charlton Heston’s personal favorite “job”. You should find it.

          “Lonely Are The Brave” is a similarly themed, modern day western with Kirk Douglas. It’s one of HIS personal favorites. You also check that one out.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Leslie, both “Will Penny” and “Lonely Are The Brave” have sad, non “Hollywood” endings. Just a heads up, I hope you will appreciate both of them. It’s hard to say “enjoy” when the ending is true but blue. I’m sure you get my drift. I’ve always had special respect for Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster because their bodies of work include gritty films as well as box office flicks. So many of today’s films seem dark and bleak. You hear the stars discuss the film they’re shilling and wonder what happened to the “entertainment” credo of movie making. Now, I’ve left myself open to the mindless flicks targeted for young people who, in the thinking of greenlighters, represent everyone. Say, goodnight, Garry!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I checked them both out Garry. I did see the forerunner of “Will Penny” then they wanted to sell me the movie, but i could watch the whole of “Lonely Are The Brave”. So I did make a start on that. It’s over a hour so I’ll have to find some time for it.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Good for you, Leslie. Walter Matthau has a nice part in “Lonely Are The Brave”. The final scene of that movie is haunting. It was a change of pace role for Matthau when the movie came out. Kirk Douglas was a Matthau booster. Kirk directed Walter in his (Matthau) first film, “The Kentuckian” which also included Kirk’s first wife, Diana. Yes, a family affair.

                  Liked by 1 person

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