Tag Archives: charlton heston

The Best Picture Project — The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

The Life of Emile Zola poster.jpg

Directed by William Dieterle

Screenplay by Norman Reilly Raine; Story and Screenplay by Heinz Herald and Geza Herczeg; based upon the book by Matthew Josephson

Starring Paul Muni, Gloria Holden, Gale Sondergaard and Joseph Schildkraut

The Life of Emile Zola is really two movies in one.

The first is a 25 minute seminar of a film, focusing on the professional life of writer Emile Zola.  It begins with him dirt poor in Paris, proceeds through a whirlwind medley of his greatest hits – books are published, a wife is married, fame is gotten – then settles with him into state of retirement and living off his wealth. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – All The King’s Men (1949)

Directed by Robert Rossen

Starring Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge and John Ireland

Screenplay by Robert Rossen, based on the novel of the same name by Robert Penn Warren

Down the years there have been a number of Best Picture winners that look like they were mistakes.  In another post, somewhere else on this blog – but not necessarily as part of The Best Picture Project – I outlined “The Little Best Pictures”, or, those films to win Best Picture while still winning three or less Oscars.  In every case the film that won Best Picture was not the winner of the most awards that year and won in so few of the important categories that their victories as Best Picture seems to be something of a mistake.  All The King’s Men was one of those films. Continue reading

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The Best Picture Project – Ben Hur (1959)

File:Benh.jpgDirected by William Wyler

Screenplay by Karl Tunberg

Based upon the novel by Lew Wallace

Starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd and Hugh Griffith

There were lots of ways to approach my take on Ben-Hur.  I could have dwelt on the fact that it won 11 Academy Awards and was the all-time king of the big winners for nearly four decades, until Titanic, and later The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King joined the club.  I could have posited why it was the Biblical epic, Ben-Hur, that won a Best Picture Oscar and be largely forgotten outside the chariot race while The Ten Commandments could become an Easter staple without being able to manage even a Best Picture nomination.  Or I could have gone ahead and really broke down the movie and talked about how, after the chariot race and vengeance has been achieved for Ben-Hur, the film loses it’s way, dramatically, and tries to foist a Biblical parable on us – Ben-Hur somehow stumbles on the crucifixion of Christ – in order to get to the end of the film.  Maybe, just maybe, we could talk about whether Charlton Heston is the worst Best Actor ever, or if the title should go to Broderick Crawford or Ray Milland – incidentally, my vote would be with Milland who, even his director thought, wasn’t good enough. Continue reading

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