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A new "Ben Hur" to be released in August.
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:28 pm    Post subject: A new "Ben Hur" to be released in August. Reply with quote

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (not kidding) and filmed entirely in Italy in a joint project between MGM and Paramount Pictures, this two-studio suicide pact was shot in digital, but second-unit director/stuntman Yakima Canutt was unavailable for the picture. (Canutt had staged the chariot race in the 1959 version of "Ben Hur.")

The new "Ben-Hur" is based upon the book by General Lew Wallace and the film in 1925 by director Fred Niblo (and four other uncredited directors) "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" AND on the 1959 version directed by William Wyler titled "Ben Hur." Hollywood has always been fast-and-loose with its use of hyphens.

(Bekmambetov is from Kazakhstan, which was part of the Soviet Union when he was born but is now an independent nation. MGM owns certain rights to Ben-Hur although both movie versions are now owned by Turner Classic Movies.)

The new version stars Danny Huston as Judah Ben-Hur; Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus; Morgan Freeman as someone, and has eight credited-producers, so far. Since MGM is purportedly on skid row, I assume Paramount put up a huge chunk of the money.

With today's tiny theater screens, there ought to be room for a chariot race of two wagons and a New Jersey State Police squad car.

Ken
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Steve Yohe



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jack Huston, grandson of the great director John Huston, and a good actor from Broardwalk Empire is playing Juda Ben Hur. He looks more like Jesus than Chuck Heston. Toby Kebbell, who was Dr Doom in the Fantasic Four movie, plays Messala. The director is a Russian who made Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter. So you can see this is going to be a great movie. They should play it in a double bill with Chuck Heston's BEN HUR, so people can see how far the art form has fallen.---Steve Yohe
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EDITED

I can watch the chariot race in the 1959 Ben Hur till the day I croak, particularly the scene where Ben-Hur's chariot hits an obstruction and Joe Canutt, son of Yakima Canutt, goes flying into the air (apparently an accident of the moment forever amazingly captured on under-cranked 65 MM film).

But to yet again watch the awful Willie Wyler version of the story (WGA-arbitration required Karl Tunberg, former Screen Writers Guild president, be listed as screenwriter but, in fact, it was written by Christopher Fry, with help from others, including Gore Vidal for the homosexual-relationship-implied scenes between Heston and Boyd) -- which uncut runs 3 hours and 42 minutes -- you couldn't pay me enough to make me view the whole thing -- the screenplay mostly makes no sense.

The Fred Niblo/Rex Ingram/ (and three others)-directed 1925 version, which, for me, is the real masterpiece I can sit through repeatedly, starred Ramon Navarro as Ben-Hur; Francis X. Bushman as Messala; and uncredited (NOT kidding); Clark Gable, John and Lionel Barrymore, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Janet Gaynor, John Gilbert, Harold Lloyd, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Mary Pickford, Carlotta Monte, Sally Rand (the stripper), Fay Wray, the one-&-only Samuel Goldwyn and an alleged 150,000 extras (the film fed half of Italy and all of Hollywood).

Written by June Mathis (adaptation);

Carey Wilson (scenario and continuity);

Bess Meredyth (continuity) and several writers to do the inter-title cards and police that the cards weren't used in poker games.


The Ben-Hur version that should accompany the newest version this summer ought to be the original one -- the Kalem Company's "Ben Hur," which is between 10 and 25 minutes long depending on the version you watch. (Kalem did not get a license from/nor pay the estate of General Lew Wallace for permission to make its film based on his book, and was successfully sued for copyright infringement, in the landmark case of its kind.)

Several surviving prints of the 1907 silent version -- filmed entirely in New York City, which are of their time, in the era before full-length movies, are available on Youtube and could be included on a double-bill with the Timur Bekmambetov version when it's released in August.

Here is one of several cut uploads of the 1907 Ben Hur, of various lengths, that use a total of three wagons pulled by local horses:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udnBq_lQkFc

Directed by Sidney Olcott, supposedly on a budget of $500 American when a dollar would buy a day's labor from one New York City worker with change left over. The first modern-era movie theater had just been built in Bronx County in New York City by the pioneering Bolte family, but when I was in touch with the last surviving Bolte family member still active in the theater business in the Bronx about 55 years ago, I failed to ask if they'd played this film; further I didn't even know about the film. I have to wonder since the Kalem Company didn't have many choices in the Bronx at that time.

Ken
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those interested in the Ben-Hur movies, you might want to look at the book first. Originally published in 1880, the book would, particularly after the first 1907 film of it, go on to become the best-selling novel of all time in the United States -- until Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" was published circa 1936.

After the 1907 Kalem film, Sears Roebuck & Company placed a single order for one million copies (not returnable) of the seven-part book and I betcha they sold 'em all.

Here's a legal, free copy of the first section of that Sears Roebuck edition of 1908. The copyright -- on Wallace's book -- expired before World War II. If you like part one, follow the breadcrumbs to part two.

Unlike the films, Wallace portrayed the face of Jesus, noting Ben-Hur "...saw a face he never forgot ... the face of a boy about his own age, shaded by locks of yellowish bright chestnut hair; a face lighted by dark-blue eyes, at the time so soft, so appealing, so full of love and holy purpose, that they had all the power of command and will..."

Digital edition courtesy of Google.

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=liAXAAAAYAAJ&rdid=book-liAXAAAAYAAJ&rdot=1

Ken
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:50 pm    Post subject: At 8 PM Sunday (TONIGHT) the 1959 BEN HUR is on TCM cable Reply with quote

TONIGHT, MARCH 20, at 8 PM; the 1959 version of Ben Hur will be shown on Turner Classic Movies.

The last time I watched some of it on Turner, they projected it from a restored Camera 65 print, at a screen-ratio of 2.76 to 1 and the movie was centered on the screen so that the black masking was as large, on both top and bottom of the screen, as the picture.

Tonight's version marks Turner's abandonment of ultra-wide-screen movies.
Using a new method of pan-and-scan, they've recut the film's image to about 1.75 to 1. Hell, CinemaScope and Panavision are wider than that.

The intermission features a still-frame from the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, but the Turner people now have cut the sides off from the greatest of Michelangelo's ceiling frescos -- the face of God and of man. Rather bold for corporate America.

In closeups of the chariot race, Ben-Hur's chariot only has two horses on screen.

Ultra-Wide Screen Movies; RIP

Ken
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jdw
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The widescreen version is available on DVD/Bluray in several of the 50th anniversary versions.

Television never has been a good medium for ultra widescreen movies. The Turner every rolled it out on the formart was something. But you kind of had to know they go back to the standard 1.75-1 version for routine airings. Heck, I must have seen the movie like that on television a dozen times before ever seeing it in the movie theaters. Even then I doubt the revival theater that I saw it in was ultra wide.

I'm thankful that the DVD version of the ultra wide exists and is sitting on my shelf when I want to watch it. On the other hand, if I'm flipping the channels and come across it, the movie even in less wide versions has always been compelling to me. One of my all-time favorites from my youth, and always recall watching it many a time with my mom.
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turner Classic Movies, in good part, made its reputation offering original versions in original formats. I spent many a night watching never-before-commercially-seen directors-cuts such as Howard Hawks' cut for "The Big Sleep" -- that changed so much of the film. And then there was post-midnight watching of silent films on TCM.

I think you're right to have been surprised that TCM ever showed the 70 MM "ultra-wide" films, sometimes losing more than half-the-screen to "black bars" of masking. And so was I, back in the day. But as the film industry kept improving itself -- starting off with nickelodeons and then movie theaters; shorts to "full-length" feature films, color, talking pictures, early, failed, attempts at wide-screen 70 MM films at the same time -- it did improve itself at no loss to the viewing public.

The television-set makers improved their product by getting wider and going digital, and has plans to get wider again.

The only TV joint that's going backwards is TCM. As it is, between films, they're running commercials now for TCM wine, cruises, festivals, subscriptions to their publications, retail sale of DVDs. Can ads for Pepsi and Hollywood Coke be far behind?

There is a surprising amount of noise being made by a few directors to specifically bring back the 70 MM- film ultra-wide format -- which remains unmatched for visual intensity, resolution and 3-D-like viewing without wearing glasses. (The Tarantino/Weinsteins' disaster didn't help any here in the U. S.)

The upcoming release of the new Superman vs Goulash Man vs Batman vs Snakeman is listed for 70 MM film showings at 10 theaters so far, last time I looked. And they're not paying for theaters' to convert to 70 MM film-projection.

Anyway, today I was in touch with a few shrines to 70 MM films. At one, In70MM.com, one gentleman there sent regrets that the topic is not in his domain. They only cover theatrical events to my knowledge and they are a European-based site. Can't blame a guy for trying to get some publicity for TCM's heresy.

The commercial airplane industry keeps turning out ever-larger flying machines. The movie business keeps turning out ever-smaller screens for ever-smaller "theaters." (Yes, this one sentence is a joke.) The exception is the building of awful IMAX theaters.

Progress?

Ken
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The trademark is Smilebox and the process has been around for over a decade. Its main use is to simulate -- for television -- a curved screen for 70 MM prints that lets a TV station telecast it in simulated Cinerama/Todd-AO/D-150 and probably any other 70 MM print without cutting off much of the edges of the film or using pan-and-scan, and without looking like it's shrinking the image.

Here, take a look and maybe gasp -- this is for a TV screen. Click on the link:


http://www.cineramaadventure.com/ticcoaster-smile2.jpg


TCM used it at least once for a segment of a documentary on Merian C. Cooper and drew one of its highest ratings ever. Of course that could have been because the documentary was about the legend Cooper.

Yes, it's expensive, but it's the closest thing in your living-room to being in a curved-screen movie-theater that I've ever seen.

There are ways to restore the great old "ultra wide" films to make them compatible with a regular TV screen.

I wonder how many fans of "ultra wide" movies know about it and are lobbying TCM to encourage them to use it?

Smilebox.com is also the name of a website NOT connected to the Smilebox movie-conversion folks. You can read about the process here:

http://www.cineramaadventure.com/smilebox.htm

Ken
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2016 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the original New York City 3-strip release of MGM/Cinerama's "How the West Was Won," a few friends I was in the theater with that first week of the showings must have seen the botton-half of this 40th-anniversary edition of the original poster, because for decades, they have claimed the train appeared to come out of the curved screen and obliterate a section of the first four rows of the theater.

Of course that was hokum, but the train image did, IIRC, look 3-dimensional.

Here's the poster, the botton half of which I haven't seen since the film opened (click on the link, then click AGAIN on the image):

http://thegreatwesternmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/WestWonPoster2.jpg

Ken
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:27 pm    Post subject: Da Trailer, first edition, of the new version of "Ben H Reply with quote

Photographed in low-resolution digital recording:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BmeR9GYdDU

The chariot race, as Steve has already observed, looks like CG, though I'd prefer to call it animation. The soundtrack, with the exception of Morgan Freeman's lines, sounds like it was all recorded by one guy who was screeching like he had laryngitis or had consumed too much alcohol, making him very hoarse... unless it's dubbed by a woman who speaks like Chewbacca or the film producer/theater-operator, porno-exhibitor, the late Chelly Wilson.

A few actors in the cast speak American English as their first language. From what the script sounds like, I don't think it matters.

Ken
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EDITED FOR STEEPLECHASE FOOTAGE.

The latest trailer is in stereophonic sound, widescreen and lit by flashlight.

Two months to go before it opens. There will be a Glossolalia version with subtitles. Currently, nine, count 'em, nine people are listed as producers.

The chariot-race site is a reconstruction of New York's famed Coney Island's Steeplechase Park(kidding), where (not kidding) you got to ride your very own mechanical horse around a very long track that encircled the entire park, with no seat belt, no netting underneath, and quite fast.

The film is presented by Sumner Redstone of Paramount and the late Kerk Kerkorian (died only last year after swindling Ted Turner a couple of times) for M-G-M's Animation Department.

Portions of the screen, in this trailer, were painted black to conceal reuse of Hal Roach's stock-company footage.

http://www.benhurmovie.com/ (Look for the little white titles "Watch the Trailer" right under the word "August" and click on it.)

OR

This version, dubbed by the same guy who dubbed most of the actors in the English-language trailer:

https://outnow.ch/Movies/2016/Ben-Hur/Trailers/trailer1_de


Newsreel footage of the original steeplechase race surrounding, and part of, Steeplechase Park circa 1915:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRiwXzgCaVQ


Ken
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Mr. Yohe has already noted, the reason the chariot race segment in the 1959 version of Ben Hur looks so real and grand is that it is a genuine chariot race (well, cuts from a number of the chariot races).

But the question sometimes arises whether the scene of the horses and chariot that jump a wrecked chariot in front of them is authentic.

It is. The utterly stupendous moments of the jump and of Joe Canutt's being thrown out of the chariot are exactly what you see on the screen -- until there's a cut where they substitute Heston himself climbing back into the chariot.

It was shot in one-take because it was unanticipated, could have killed Joe Canutt (one of Yakima's sons, who was stunt driving for Charlton Heston), and no one would dare duplicate it with real horses, chariot and driver.

Joe Canutt allegedly failed to follow his father's instructions and hold the chariot body in the right grip and place. He went soaring into the air in an under-cranked scene where the race looks faster than it really is.

Here's the scene, which they ought to use in its entirety (footage, some of which has never been publicly shown, if it still exists) in this year's $25 remake of the film. Come in at the 20-second point and let a few seconds of the race build to the stunt-jump:

Joe Canutt was not seriously injured in the jump as he landed back on the chariot. Damn near gave his old man a heart attack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frE9rXnaHpE


Ken
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Ken Viewer



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could the chariot race in the new Ben-Hur not be CGI even though it looks like a cartoon?

Yes, if it's been filmed in CARTOON-Vision.

The Paramount Pictures people are claiming the race is genuine. Maybe, but the race can well be genuine if that's not what's on the screen.

Here's the newly released short-short showing more portions of the "race," on Youtube:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa6wqjI8oYQ


The horse walking up the stairs in this trailer is merely looking for a hot filly. Walt Disney would be so jealous...:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OE46mqgXqo&feature=youtu.be


Ken
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Steve Yohe



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Read something about the new Ben-Hur costing the studio 75 million.---Yohe
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