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Best of: Charlton Heston Films
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 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.
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 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.