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Best of: Charlton Heston Films

Updated on June 23, 2011

Charlton Heston: An American Classic

Charlton Heston is one of the most well known and most successful actors in cinema history. His deep voice, chiseled face, and unique acting style made him ripe for movie classics.

Heston acted in over 100 films and several television series. Even though he turned down many famous roles, including Police Chief Brody in Jaws, Jim Bowie in The Alamo, Marshal Will Kane in High Noon, he was still able to produce one most profound Hollywood careers.

This lens includes my favorite Charlton Heston films and some of my favorite quotes.

Charlton Heston Biography

Life and History of a Legend

Charlton Heston was born October 4, 1923 as John Charles Carter in Illinois. Heston chose his stage name by combining his mother's maiden name (Charlton) and his step-father's surname.

While attending New Trier High School, Heston starred in a silent 16mm amateur film adaption of Peer Gynt, directed by future film activist David Bradley (who later directed Heston in the first sound version of Julius Caesar). Heston earned a drama scholarship to Northwestern University.

Heston then served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II as a B-25 radio operator and gunner. He earned the rank of Staff Sergeant.

After the war, Heston moved to Hell's Kitchen, New York City and worked as an artist model. For a short while, he moved to Asheville, North Carolina to manage a playhouse before returning to New York. In 1948, he was offered a supporting role in a Broadway revival of Antony and Cleopatra, starring Katharine Cornell. He then went on to act successfully in a number of roles in CBS's Studio One. After viewing Heston in Wuthering Heights, Hal B. Wallis approached him and offered a movie contract.

"Charlton Heston earned his first ounce of fame for his appearance in his first professional movie, Dark City."

In 1950, Charlton Heston earned his first ounce of fame for his appearance in his first professional movie, Dark City. Just two years later, Heston brokethrough the Hollywood ranks when he was cast as a circus manager in The Greatest Show on Earth, which was named as best picture in 1952.

Shortly after, Heston was being cast to play heroic figures in both historical and sci-fi epics. He remained one of the top Hollywood actors for forty-years.

Charlton Heston died on April 5, 2008 due to Alzheimer's disease.

Best Charlton Heston Films

A Few of the Many

Charlton Heston acted in over 100 films throughout his career. Although some have been forgotten, many are remembered today as American classics.

Heston is among the greatest actors of all-time along side the likes of Gary Cooper, James Stewart, and Marlon Brando. He is best remembered for his voice, facial structure, and screen presence.

The President's Lady

Charlton Heston plays a young Andrew Jackson in this biographical flick. The film is based on the novel by Irving Stone. The movie goes into detail on how he met his wife and was meant as a compliment to the couple.

The President's Lady is considered one of Charlton Heston's best romantic films.

55 Days at Peking

Charlton Heston plays Major Matt Lewis, the head of multinational soldiers defending the foreign compound in Peking. The film is a dramatization of the Boxer Rebellion which took place in 1900 China when Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi uses the Boxer secret societies to attack foreigners within China.

The siege in Peking lasts 55 days, during which Major Lewis tries to keep the encroachment safe until reinforcements arrive and put down the rebellion.

The cast of 55 days at Peking also includes Ava Gardner, who plays Heston's love interest, a Russian Baroness Natalie Ivanoff.

Major Dundee

Major Dundee is an epic story of the great south-west. Charlton Heston plays Major Amos Charles Dundee, a Union cavalry officer who was relieved from his combat command due to an error at the Battle of Gettysburg. He is sent to head a prisoner-of-war camp in the New Mexico Territory where he attempts to seize glory by raising a private army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, and mercentaries to hunt down an Apache war chief who murdered ranchers and a relief column of cavalry.

The film includes a love affair, drama between the many factions of Dundee's army and several bloody Apache battles.

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers holds an amazing cast of characters. Raquel Welch, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Christopher Lee, and of course Charlton Heston.

This film is based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas and directed by Richard Lester. Interestingly enough, the actors didn't realize the filming would result in two films, not one.

Nonetheless, the film includes brilliant humor, great swordsmanship, and a "who's who" of best actors during this films period.

Julius Caesar

Charlton Heston's second film of the same name and character. The film is a classic remake of William Shakespeare's tale of betrayal within the Roman Empire.

Richard Chamberlain plays Octavian Caesar, Christopher Lee is Artemidorus, and the role of Brutus went to Jason Robards.

The Omega Man

The Omega Man is a remake of the 1964 film The Last Man of Earth. The movie is based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson which was made once again into a film in 2007 under the novel's title.

Charlton Heston plays Dr. Robert Neville who vaccinated himself against a plague released during a biological warfare between th People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union which killed most of the world's human population.

The film takes place in Los Angeles, where several hundred infected humans call themselves "The Family" and have become violent, nocturnal, and deranged. "The Family" roams around at night burning books and cultural artifacts as a way to cleanse the world.

At night, Neville illuminates his building and the surrounding area to deter The Family's attempts to kill him. During the day, he roams the streets of LA seeking ingredients for a cure and food.

Finally, Neville meets a group of non-infected humans; however, it is only the beginning of a new adventure to save the human race and his new found friends.

Soylent Green

Soylent Green is a cult classic set in the future during the time of overpopulation and depleted resources. There is widespread unemployment and poverty and real fruit and meat are rare.

Charlton Heston plays a New York police detective, Robert Thorn, who investigates the brutal murder of a wealthy businessman. As he attempts to find the assassin, he falls for the businessman's "furniture" and finds something fishy must be going on at the Soylent Green factory.

The film is loosely based on the 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison.

The Ten Commandments

Charlton Heston plays the Egyptian Prince, Moses. The movie centers around the Hebrews escape from Egypt, God's miracles, and the eventual Ten Commandments.

After adjusting for inflation, The Ten Commandments is the fifth-highest grossing movie of all-time domestically. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The film is a loose version of the Exodus story traditionally told in the Bible. Many of the characters were not in the Bible, did not contain names, or actions did not take place. Nonetheless, it is seen as a historically significant film and one of Charlton Heston's best. The film is shown yearly on and around Christmas within the United States.


Ben-Hur won eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Only two other films have accomplished the same feat, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The movie is the third film version of the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace.

The film follows the life of Judah Ben-Hur who is imprisoned by the Roman's after tiles from a roof fall and nearly kills the new governor. Judah's family begs for his life, but are placed in prison to intimidate the Jewish populace by punishing the powerful family. Ben-Hur swears to return from his condemnation and take revenge.

Planet of the Apes

Possibly the most famous Charlton Heston film throughout the world, the movie takes place in the near future where a group of astronauts are sent into space in hope of continuing the human population and finding new species of plants and animals.

Charlton Heston plays George Taylor, the leader of a crew who crash lands on a planet where apes are the dominant species and humans are oppressed and enslaved. Taylor is himself enslaved and attempts to converse with the head apes in hopes of freedom. While in captivity, Taylor meets a woman who he calls "Nova" and attempts to have a relationship, though she cannot speak.

The film has been turned into many sequels, a remake, and even a television series.

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    • Arco Hess Designs profile image

      Arco Hess 3 years ago from Kansas City, Kansas

      I love the Ten Commandments. I watch it every Easter.

    • profile image

      jerome-szczerba 5 years ago

      the one with the gianthead air ship but don't know the name

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 6 years ago

      I am still discovering movies of Heston's that I have never seen. The Greatest Show on Earth is a good movie, so is Will Penny.

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

      I like Charlton Heston's Movies. Ben-Hur is one of my favouries also the Ten Commandments. I like his movies because he is so different on each of them, you do believe the character he is performing, he becomes the character. As Stanislavsky would have said: a realistic way to act :)

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      So many great movies. I love Ben Hur, Planet Of The Apes, Soylent Green and Omega Man best. Nicely done, Charlton Heston was a great actor.

    • retro-gamer profile image

      Howard 6 years ago from Michigan

      I always enjoyed Heston and my favorites of his are Soylent Green and Planet of the Apes.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 7 years ago

      I love Charlton Heston and his movies. My favorite are Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments.

      Great lens honoring his activity as an actor.


    • photofk3 profile image

      photofk3 7 years ago

      I like him for his movies, as well as for his role in the NRA. Great lens, thank you.

    • lovelylashes profile image

      lovelylashes 7 years ago

      He was good in Planet of the Apes, but after watching too many movies starring him, including Planet of the Apes 2 and 3. I've begun to dread his gaunt face.

      You did forget one movie, Earthquake.

      Great lens, but I can't stand the actor.

    • profile image

      jgelien 7 years ago

      I still like him the best in The Ten Commandments but he was definitely wonderful in all the different roles that he played. Thanks for the great lens.

    • italianizeyours profile image

      italianizeyours 7 years ago

      I love the Omega Man. I thought it was much better than the lastest version. Heston was great

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      Apparently, I haven't seen many Charlton Heston films! Nice job on this lens.

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 8 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      5* - Heston is one 0of my favorites!

    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 8 years ago from USA

      Charleton Heston - just a one of a kind. He shall always be one of our all-time favorites, a great man in his personal life and convictions, and unforgettable on the screen. 5*s here!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      I was invited for a private tour of Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood home and there were many photographs and artifacts from "The Ten Commandments," which is my second favorite Heston film. "Ben-Hur" is still number one.