'Ben-Hur' races to Senator

April 26, 1991|By Stephen Hunter

They don't make 'em like they used to, and when you see

"Ben-Hur," in a 70-millimeter print up there on the Senator's giant screen (through next Friday) you'll know why they don't make 'em like they used to. Because today, "Ben-Hur" would cost as much as the liberation of Kuwait.

The movie is not the greatest epic ever made; it's not even the epic-est epic ever made; it's not even the dumbest (the answers: "Lawrence of Arabia," "Spartacus" and "The Ten Commandments"). It is the greatest mediocre epic ever made, 11 Oscars or not, but still a hoot and a half after all these years, what with Charlton Heston having emerged as the son of conservative politics and spokesman of ye olde National Rifle Association, so when he talks, Jack, you listen.

It has been reported that the film, in its 70-millimeter incarnation off a freshly struck print, blows you out of your socks. And the movie has some set pieces that have never been rivaled, chiefly a chariot race that bounces almost between Belvedere Avenue and Bank Street.

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