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Hollywood Legend Heston Passes Away

By Julian Spivey    

 

 The world lost its epic movie hero on Saturday, April 5 when screen legend Charlton Heston died at age 84.

     Known for his rugged looks and playing larger than life, often biblical heroes there was no question that Heston stood tall above the rest.

Some of the greatest directors cinema has ever seen wanted Heston to grace their pictures. William Wyler, Cecil B. DeMille and Orson Welles knew that Heston’s chiseled face on a movie poster could alone bring in the masses to view their films.

     The first thing that comes to mind when remembering Heston is the finely tuned chariot race from Wyler’s 1959 film Ben-Hur, which won 11 Academy Awards, including best actor for Heston.

     This scene, more so than maybe any in film history, showed the intricate craftsmanship of filming a scene in an era before pressing a few buttons on a computer could graphically create a chariot race. It is also a great reason why films should be viewed in the widescreen format and not the pan and scan full screen print specifically meant to fit television screens. Many directors, including recent best director Oscar winner for 2006’s The Departed Martin Scorsese, view this scene as the greatest ever filmed.

     Heston parted the waters as Moses in DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956), starred as rough edged cowboy Ed Bannon in Charles Marquis Warren’s Arrowhead (1953) and traveled through time to a land where evolution regressed as George Taylor in Franklin J. Schaffner’s The Planet of the Apes (1968).

     Arguably Heston’s two best films were 1958’s Touch of Evil and 1973’s Soylent Green.

     Heston played Mexican narcotics agent Mike Vargas in Welles’ Touch of Evil. The dark thriller and last hurrah for the film noir genre pitted Heston against the small town backwoods lawman Hank Quinlan, played by Welles. Watching two of cinema’s best actors showdown on the Mexican border is well worth the viewing.

     Heston was excellent as detective Robert Thorn is the overpopulated future of 2022 in Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green.

     The film proves to be a great thriller about the origins of a futuristic supplement called soylent green. The highlights of the film are its stunning ending and the relationship between Heston’s character and Sol Roth, played by Edward G. Robinson.

     Soylent Green was Robinson’s final film as the actor passed away nine days after filming of the movie wrapped.

     In the days following Heston’s passing he was the topic of many controversial blogs and postings on the Internet that were truly disrespectful toward him because of his politics and his membership with the NRA.              

     Heston’s politics and beliefs have nothing to do with the actor’s long and fine career of entertaining audiences everywhere. Any disrespectful comments about deceased Hollywood legends, like Heston, show extreme lack of class by those making them.

     Heston was a film legend and there aren’t too many of those left.