Easter Movies on TCM: The Resurrection and more

Charlton Heston is “Ben Hur.” — Credit: MGM

The great annual celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord will be marked by Turner Classic Movies with excellent — and otherwise — biblical epics.

 

April 18

11 p.m.: Ben Hur (1959). The sturdy “tale of the Christ” written by General Lew Wallace became a showcase for one of Charlton Heston’s iconic roles as Judah ben Hur, the Jewish prince reduced to slavery through the machinations of his friend, Messala. The superb series of paintings of 19th century French portraitist J. J. Tissot are the basis for the final part of the film dealing with the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The art direction, Miklos Rosza’s beautiful score and Heston’s lead actor performance accounted for three of the film’s 11 Oscars.

 

April 19

11 a.m.: Quo Vadis (1951). Roman tribune Marcus Vinicius, drawn to the beauty and tenderness of Lygia, a Christian maiden, challenges the might of the Emperor Nero in this sincere, well-made version of the novel by Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz. Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr and Peter Ustinov as Nero star with Finley Currie bringing a Scottish burr to his characterization of Simon Peter.

 

April 20

2:45 a.m.: The Silver Chalice (1954). Based on the novel by Thomas B. Costain, the film was made notorious when Paul Newman took out a full-page ad in Variety begging people not to watch when it debuted on TV in 1959. The story traces the life of Basil, adopted son of a rich Roman merchant sold into slavery, who becomes a famous silversmith. Freed by Joseph of Arimathea, Basil is given the task of preserving the likenesses of Jesus and the 12 Apostles for a large silver chalice created as a reliquary for the Holy Grail. Jack Palance has a field day hamming it up as the evil Simon Magus, intent on showing up Peter the Apostle (Lorne Green) by destroying the Grail. There is lots of unintentional humor, but enjoy Alexander Scourby’s amiable portrayal of St. Luke.

5 a.m.: Barabbas (1962). Based on the 1950 novel by Swedish novelist Pär Lagerkvist, this thoughtful film recounts the later life of the man who was pardoned in place of Jesus, as he attempts to understand why he was spared. Anthony Quinn stars with Sylvana Magano, Ernest Borgnine, Arthur Kennedy as Pilate and British actor Harry Andrews as Simon Peter. An actual total solar eclipse formed the background for the Crucifixion scenes.

7:30 a.m.: The Big Fisherman (1959). Simon Peter gets his own story, based on the first half of Lloyd C. Douglas’ novel, a sequel to “The Robe.” Howard Keel is perfectly cast as Peter but the film gets lost in the subplot of Fara (Susan Kohner), daughter of the Herod Antipas’ first wife, attempting to avenge her mother by killing Antpas, played by the always enjoyable Herbert Lom. Some good moments but it could have been so much more.

10:30 a.m.: King of Kings (1961). Director Nicholas Ray’s attempt to tell the life of Christ is basically sound but there are a few script problems (writer Philip Yordan came to the production after it had begun, finding the screenplay consisting of nothing more than pages typed out from the Gospels). The film is helped immensely by Miklos Rosza’s fine score, less so by the Virgin Mary’s (Siobhán McKenna) Irish brogue.

1:30 p.m.: The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). Despite cameos by major Hollywood actors, director George Stevens’ version of the life of Christ (Max von Sydow) remains static, especially after the death of John the Baptist (Charlton Heston, who brought much energy to his part). Dorothy McGuire plays the Virgin Mary; Joseph Schildkraut, who’d played Judas in De Mille’s silent “The King of Kings,” is Nicodemus; and Claude Rains exudes evil as Herod the Great in his last film role. One thing to notice: Calvary is accurately shown as a smooth, rocky, gray rise just outside Jerusalem’s city gates, explaining why the Gospels call it “the skull place.”

 

Sean M. Wright presents workshops and enrichment courses in Catholic topics at parishes throughout the archdiocese. He replies to comments sent him at Locksley69@aol.com.


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner @gmail.com or Jim LoCoco at flavialococ0@msn.com.

     

     

    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to www.boscotech.edu/events or www.yurak.eventbrite.com; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 

     

    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.

     

    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit lentenfootprints.yolasite.com or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or mromero@ccharities.org.

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