I look forward to Easter each year, not only for the religious aspects, but for Charlton Heston. Oh yes, it’s a must to see Moses played by Heston in the Cecil B. DeMille campy version of the Ten Commandments. I have the video for the movie but I enjoy watching it only Easter Sunday. I find it more fun. After all who else can play Moses and the voice of God at the same time?
Who else could be held by chains while the Pharaoh’s wife fawns over him? And the lines Anne Baxter had to perform with a straight face should have earned her a special Oscar for that hilarious scene. It wasn’t intended to be funny or campy but the way it played out! Imagine Heston with a loin cloth around his waist, held up in chains, must have smelled like s…., foul breath, but, yet his hair was appeared as if it was combed and his teeth, oh yes, the teeth, nice and shiny peeking out from his impeccable speaking voice.
And there is Anne Baxter, appearing as if she was going to one of Pharaoh’s parties. Seducing Moses but good old Heston oh excuse me, Moses, resists her advances because he has found the Lord Jehovah. Now Heston fans you have to agree with me, nobody, but nobody could part the Red Sea like him. The image of him facing the sea with the appropriate music and special effects was spectacular. After all who else but G0d, with the help of Heston, could have parted the sea and let the Israelites run through to the other side to avoid Pharaoh’s chariots from slaughtering them.
Edward G. Robinson must have owed someone a favor to play the ridiculous part of Dathan. But like the movie Eddie G. played it campy. Then we have the burning bush that believe it or not, was done well barely avoiding the campy nature of the movie. John Derek, playing Joshua, (Derek was better known as the husband of Bo Derek) waiting for Moses whose image was changed so dramatically the Derek uttered those immortal words, “He has seen the face of God”.
Now who else could have played that scene with the same relish as Heston? Over the years since 1956 when the Ten Commandments appeared on screen there have been many versions and many actors playing the part of Moses. And, that includes the recently concluded TV version of the Bible. It is my opinion, and only my opinion, that no one could ever play the part of Moses without the image of the greatest Moses ever played by any movie actor.
Think about the parting of the Red Sea, discovering he is an Israelite and dancing in the mud pits of Egypt without anyone recognizing him except Anne Baxter in another unbelievable but campy scene of rescuing Moses from the mud pits.
Of course there is also Ben-Hur, a truly great movie winner of many Academy award including Best Actor for Heston's magnificent portrayal of Judah Ben-Hur. Played straight with dialogue only the best of the best actors could portray. And that is part of the Easter tradition as well, watching this Oscar winning movie. Remember the subtitle of the movie “The story of the Christ”. Just like the Ten Commandments as Moses, in this Heston will always be Ben-Hur and the movie an Easter tradition.
So it’s the ham award of the season for Heston and the Ten Commandments. And the Oscar for his great portrayal of Ben-Hur. Now you have it. Heston, Easter and the Ham award.
Memories light the corners of my mind. I hope yours too.
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