Ben-Hur (1959)

When I was compiling my post of English-language films that might appeal to a lover of old Hindi cinema, I needed to check something about Ben-Hur (which was on my list) on IMDB—and I discovered something I hadn’t realized. That Ben-Hur was being remade. In fact, it was due for release less than a fortnight after my post.

Now, if that isn’t coincidence, serendipity, fate, call it what you will—I don’t know what is. So I made up my mind: this remake had to be watched, and the original (no, I’m not counting the earlier, silent version of the film, but the record-breaking, many-Oscar winning one, directed by William Wyler). Comparisons, of course, would follow.

A moment from the memorable chariot race

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The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

One of the good things about growing up in a family that loved reading was that even as a child, I was surrounded by books—novels, of course; and treatises on everything from Wordsworth’s poetry (thanks to my mother) to gardening and homoeopathy (thanks to my father). Those books, big tomes that were all words and no pictures, were of no interest to a 6-year old who wasn’t too deeply into literature.

My favourite book from my parents’ vast collection was a large Readers’ Digest coffee table book called Family Treasury of Great Painters and Great Paintings. This one was a fascinating book. You didn’t need to be able to read much to be able to enjoy it, because it was full of the most amazing paintings. That was where I first saw The Music Lesson, La Grande Jatte, The Arnolfini Wedding, Sunflowers… and The Creation of Man. I don’t even need to open that book now to see what The Creation of Man looked like, spread across the top half of two pages. It took my breath away.

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The Naked Jungle (1954)

One person who’s figured very consistently on my blog statistics for the past year is the gorgeous Eleanor Parker. Any day, all I need to do is click my blog stats link, and I’ll see that among the top hits for my blog is ‘eleanor parker’ or ‘eleanor parker actress’. So, considering it’s her 88th birthday today, it seemed the perfect time to review a film that starred Ms Parker.
Eleanor Parker was born on June 26th, 1922. The ‘Woman of a Thousand Faces’ (so called because of her amazing versatility), she got three Oscar nominations, but is usually remembered mainly for her role as the beautiful Baroness in The Sound of Music. Ms Parker did, however, act in a host of other films—and in very varying roles, too. This, as the mail order bride of a plantation owner in South America, is just one of them.

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