Monday, May 05, 2014

Ben-Hur (1907)

This first screen version of Lew Wallace's celebrated novel is mainly of historical interest now for an early performance by William S. Hart, reprising his role as Messala from the Broadway production. Made during those wild and woolly early years of cinema, this was an unauthorized adaptation that got its makers sued by the book's publishers. Key scenes from the novel are presented as vignettes, condensing the story considerably to little more than the major highlights. It concludes with the chariot race sequence, a veritable epic of its day, shot on location in New Jersey. Directed by Sidney Olcott for the Kalem company.

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