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212 min | Sweden:219 min (1970) | Sweden:224 min (1962) | UK:222 min (1993 re-release) | 214 min (DVD edition) | 222 min (2005 DVD)
Adventure | Drama
IMDB rate:
William Wyler
Won 11 Oscars. Another 22 wins & 7 nominations
Country: USA
Release Date: 1960-01-29
Filming Locations: Anzio, Italy
Budget: $15,900,000
Gross: $74,700,000 (USA) ( 1959)
Charlton Heston
Judah Ben-Hur
Jack Hawkins
Quintus Arrius
Haya Harareet
Stephen Boyd
Hugh Griffith
Sheik Ilderim
Martha Scott
Cathy O'Donnell
Sam Jaffe
Finlay Currie
Frank Thring
Pontius Pilate
Terence Longdon
George Relph
Tiberius Caesar
André Morell
Les Ballets Africains
Dancers at Roman Banquet
Ady Berber
Malluch (uncredited)
Marina Berti
Flavia (uncredited)
Hugh Billingsley
Mario (uncredited)
Jerry Brown
The Corinthian (uncredited)
Robert Brown
Chief of Rowers (uncredited)
Lando Buzzanca
Jewish Slave in the Desert (uncredited)
Joe Canutt
Sportsman (uncredited)
Otello Capanna
The Byzantine (uncredited)
Emile Carrer
Rower No. 28 (uncredited)
Richard Coleman
Antonio Corevi
Senator (uncredited)
Michael Cosmo
Raimondo (uncredited)
Alfredo Danesi
The Armenian (uncredited)
David Davies
Quaestor (uncredited)
Princess Carmen de Hohenlohe
Guest at Banquet (uncredited)
Victor De La Fosse
Galley Officer (uncredited)
Liana Del Balzo
Guest at Banquet (uncredited)
Mino Doro
Gratus (uncredited)
Michael Dugan
Seaman (uncredited)
Franco Fantasia
Roman Soldier Who Brings Crown to Gratus (uncredited)
Dino Fazio
Marcello (uncredited)
Enzo Fiermonte
Galley Officer (uncredited)
John Glenn
Rower No. 42 (uncredited)
José Greci
Richard Hale
Claude Heater
Jesus - The Christ
Prince Hohenlohe
Guest at banquet (uncredited)
John Horsley
Spintho (uncredited)
Eddie Juaregui
The Athenian (uncredited)
William Kiehl
Soldier (uncredited)
Duncan Lamont
Marius (uncredited)
Howard Lang
Stevenson Lang
Blind Man (uncredited)
Lord Layton
Good Thief on Cross
John Le Mesurier
Doctor (uncredited)
Tutte Lemkow
Leper (uncredited)
Cliff Lyons
The Lubian (uncredited)
Luigi Marra
The Syrian (uncredited)
Ferdy Mayne
Captain of Rescue Ship (uncredited)
May McAvoy
Woman in crowd (uncredited)
Nona Medici
Guest at Banquet (uncredited)
Tiberio Mitri
Roman at Bath (uncredited)
Aldo Mozele
Barca (uncredited)
Thomas O'Leary
Starter at Race (uncredited)
Remington Olmsted
Decurian (uncredited)
Laurence Payne
Aldo Pial
Cavalry Officer (uncredited)
Aldo Pini
Bad Thief on Cross
Diego Pozzetto
Villager (uncredited)
Prince Raimondo
Guest at Banquet (uncredited)
Stella Rho
Edwin Richfield
Supplier to Leper Colony (uncredited)
Count Mario Rivoltella
Undetermined role (uncredited)
Hector Ross
Officer (uncredited)
Prince Emanuele Ruspoli
Guest at banquet (uncredited)
Maxwell Shaw
Rower No. 43 (uncredited)
Noel Sheldon
Aldo Silvani
Man in Nazareth (uncredited)
Reginald Lal Singh
Gianni Solaro
Galley Officer (uncredited)
Pietro Tordi
Pilate's Servant (uncredited)
Giuseppe Tosi
Chariot Driver (uncredited)
Ralph Truman
Aide to Tiberius (uncredited)
Raimondo Van Riel
Old Man (uncredited)
Dervis Ward
Jailer (uncredited)
Irina Wassilchikoff
Guest at Banquet (uncredited)
Joe Yrigoyen
The Egyptian - Chariot Racer (uncredited)
Nazzareno Zamperla
Roman Soldier with a Bow on Galley (uncredited)
Did you know?
Sergio Leone has an uncredited second unit director credit. In later years, he claimed that he directed the chariot race scenes, but that is an apparently self-serving exaggeration (Leone had a reputation for stretching the truth).
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Director William Wyler decided that the Romans should have British accents, and that the four Americans in the cast would play the Judaeans. This was a technique later used in Masada (1981). There are, however, exceptions, such as Israeli actress Haya Harareet as Esther, and a British actor dubbing one of the Judaeans winching provisions down to the Valley of the Lepers.
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The final film role of actor George Relph.
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When Judah visits Messala after the chariot race, as he enters the room he lays his wreath on a chair next to the door. When he leaves, the wreath is missing.
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When the audience first sees Ben-Hur and Messala together and they both throw a spear at the wall, the sound of Ben-Hur's voice does not match up with his lips.
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Christ is always seen from the back, but when He is condemned to death He is facing Pilate and His face is obscured by a shadow added optically in post production when William Wyler determined that actor Claude Heater's face was too clearly seen, even at a distance.
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Neighbor: You're not watching the soldiers, Joseph? Joseph: We've seen Romans before.
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Surgeon: We cannot wait, Tribune. Messala: [softly] He will come.
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Judah Ben-Hur: If I cannot persuade them, that does not mean I will help you... *murder* them. Besides, you must understand this, Messala. I believe in the past of my people, *and* in their future.
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What are some differences between the different versions of the story?
There are 6 main versions of Ben-Hur. The novel by General Lew Wallace, the stage play, the 1907 silent version which only features the Chariot Race sequence, the 1925 silent film, the best-known 1959 version starring Charlton Heston, and a 2003 animated version. The biggest difference between the 1907 version and others is that it is the Chariot Race sequence only, and does not incorporate other major story elements. The original novel states, among other things, that Quintus Arrius knew Ben-Hur's father, and that when Arrius passed away, he left Ben-Hur a good deal of wealth and property. There are no such statements in any filmed version, and we are apparently led to believe that Arrius still lives when the film ends. The filmed versions end at the crucifixion and its immediate aftermath. The novel elaborates and goes into Christians going into hiding to create places of worship.Ben-Hur becomes a Christian far earlier in the book. Messala's final fate differs. In the novel, he is killed in a jealous rage by his mistress Iras (who does not appear in the 1959 version at all), whereas in the 1959 film we are lead to believe he dies of injuries sustained in the chariot race. In the 1925 version, Ben-Hur's identity in the chariot race is meant to be anonymous with no one knowing who he is, and people referring to this unidentified racer as "The Unknown Jew." Messala uses his mistress Iras to attempt to discover who he is. In the 1959 version Judah makes no such effort to conceal his identity. In the 1925 version we see Jesus Christ's hands and no other part of his body. In the 1959 version we see much of his body, but his face remains hidden throughout and is never shown. In the novel and the 1925 version, Judah joins the Jewish resistance forces immediately after the chariot race, and is ready to lead a militia against the Romans. However, during the walk to his crucifixion, Jesus convinces him to lay down his arms. These developments are completely absent from the 1959 version (it was probably regarded as too sensitive given the similar situation with the Palestines in Israel at the time).
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Photos from cast
Giuliano Gemma