MOVIES See "Ben-Hur" as it was intended to be seen, in 70mm at the Senator Theatre. This epic 1959 film amuses initially -- spear and sandal movies date quickly. But before long, good filmmaking takes over. It's a good yarn. Charlton Heston, who won an Academy Award for best actor for the film, is the aristocratic Judean betrayed by his former good friend, Marsala, a Roman played by Stephen Boyd. They meet as contenders in the climactic chariot race. The film also won Academy Awards for best film, best director and best supporting actor (Hugh Griffith). This is spectacle the way Hollywood used to do it. Violence. No rating. ****
Catch three symphony orchestras this weekend. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs at 8:15 p.m. tonight and 3 p.m. tomorrow at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. South Korean pianist Ju Hee Suh, 23, plays Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. Tickets: $11-$37. Call 783-8000. The Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, under Eric Townell, plays at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Johns Hopkins University. Tickets: $5/$3. Call 338-6332. And the Women Composers Orchestra performs at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at LeClerc Hall, College of Notre Dame. Tickets: $9/$5. Call 448-2650.
Stop the world
The Barnstormers of Catonsville Community College are presenting a top-notch performance of the Anthony Newley-Leslie Bricusse musical, "Stop the World I Want to Get Off!" Set in a circus, the story follows the life of Littlechap, a self-seeking opportunist, through lyrics of such '60s hits as "Once in a Lifetime" and "What Kind of Fool Am I?" Fine direction by John Wynne and a superb performance by Gary Hiel as the charming rogue. 8 p.m. Fine Arts and Performing Arts Center, 800 Rolling Road. Tickets: $8. 455-4508.
"Sibling Rivalry" didn't do that well in theaters, but it's certainly worth a look on video. The comedy stars Kirstie Alley as a young woman who has a one-night affair with a man who dies in the hotel room they are using. Carl Reiner directed, and most of the time the gags work. The rating is PG-13, but the film does get a bit gross now and then. Sex, language. Rating: PG-13.
A repeat performance
It was an appropriate show business irony that Danny Thomas had been more visible on TV in the weeks leading up to his recent death than he had been in many years. He'd been doing the talk show circuit promoting his book "Make Room for Daddy." And the Saturday before his passing, on Feb. 6, Mr. Thomas did a guest shot on a show produced by his son. That's NBC's "Empty Nest" (produced by Tony Thomas), and tonight's airing (at 10, Channel 2) repeats the guest appearance.