Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks-Ancient World


As we get closer to Easter, I am reminded of my childhood when certain films were played each year, and still are, on tv, and I would watch these films with my dad and love every minute of it even though these films were quite long.....just like this sentence.  So we are going old, like really old, in time and the films which showcase ancient times is the topic for this week.  I love Gladiator but I'm not choosing this film, but maybe someone else has so head on over to Wandering Through The Shelves to see what the other film buffs have chosen. Here are my 3.....

1. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS-1956


The great Cecil B DeMille actually created this film back in 1923 and, if you have seen this film, he uses some of the same looks from that film in this one. This film has been shown on tv at Easter time every year for decades and I have fond memories of watching this. It tells the story of Moses who was raised by a pharaoh but finds out he is a humble Hebrew who must lead his people to freedom. The chiseled rock, Charlton Heston, plays Moses to great effect. Anne Baxter is a pharaoh queen who loves him, Yul Brynner is the whiny brat who becomes pharaoh and hates Heston's guts and Yvonne DeCarlo ( Lily Munster) plays Moses's wife. There is a cast of thousands in this film and it won an Oscar for special effects for that still great scene of the parting of the Red Sea. Moses is actually more fun when he is the pharaoh to be who could have actually really helped his people if he stayed in power but he decided to grow an amazing beard and raise his hands in the air a lot and became rather ..boring. The people he saves see many amazing things but can be easily swayed to have an orgy around a golden calf after being talked to by Brooklyn accented Edward G. Robinson. Hmmmm, this film was up for many Oscars...a golden statue...hmmmmm,.

2. BEN HUR-1959


Charlton Heston stars as the main character in this long but great film about a wealthy Jewish man who is betrayed by his old friend Messala. As a result, Messala sends Ben Hur on a slave ship where he is one of the oarsmen. When the ship is attacked, he ends up saving the Roman head of that ship and is in return, granted his freedom and is welcomed in his home. Ben Hur comes back home representing his land in the best chariot race ever shown on screen! He finds out his mother and sister have leprosy and do not want to be seen but he finds them. At this time, a man, who once gave him water, is being taken to his death. Remembering that this Carpenter once gave him water, Ben Hur does the same for the Carpenter. This epic was directed by the famous William Wyler who worked on the 1925 film version as an assistant and who had wanted to remake this film for a long time. A great film that one the most awards until tied by that flick I call, the love boat sinking.

3. A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM-1966


I love this film which I consider one of the best comedies and starring many people who used to be in burlesque and vaudeville as comics from Frank Gifford, Phil Silvers, Zero Mostel to the great Buster Keaton. Actually many were blacklisted during the Communist witch hunts from the late 40's and early 50's. Zero plays a slave who is very lazy and wants to be free. When his slave owners leave for the day, their young son is left and Zero finds out he is in love with a virgin. He works out a plan to gain his freedom if he can unite the young man with the virgin. Hijinks ensue through the many dealings and underhanded ploys the slave does to win his freedom. You have a couple of songs, love, lust and Frank Gifford dressed as a virgin. Very funny film that I hope you can see when you get the chance.

Which films would you choose?

53 comments:

  1. Ten Commandments is a good choice.
    Conan was set in ancient times!
    Actually a great film set during the time of the Vikings is The 13th Warrior. Very underrated movie.

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    1. I reàlly love 13th Warrior and thought it was really good. I especially loved how they dealt with the language issue.

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  2. I haven't seen any of these, but the 3rd pick sounds pretty whacky and I love the title.

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  3. Hi, Birgit!

    You and I share similar childhood memories. I first saw The Ten Commandments in the theater and thereafter it was a family tradition to watch the epic film on TV every year at Easter. Now that the motion picture has been painstakingly restored, both audio and video, it is must seen all over again. Few movie spectacles made as much impression on impressionable young Shady as the parting of the Red Sea. (Joy Harmon's dance scene in Village of the Giants comes close. :) It always amazed me how Yul Brenner as the wicked pharaoh remained unconvinced of Moses' ability to harness God's mighty powers. I would have buckled after witnessing Moses' very first magic trick. In an effort to attract more blog followers, I have decided to grow an amazing beard and raise my hands in the air a lot. :)

    Another big screen spectacle that blew me away as a kid was the thrilling chariot race in Ben Hur. The leper colony scenes also made a big impression on me. Last but not least, one of my favorite actresses, Cathy O'Donnell, has a role in that film.

    I saw A Funny Thing Happened... at college. i wonder how many of today's young people, steeped in the millennial SNL style of comedy, have ever been exposed to the comedic talents of old schoolers from the burlesque and vaudeville era like Zero Mostel Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford and Buster Keaton. They all influenced me as a boy.

    Thanks, dear friend BB!

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    1. I wondered the same thing about Yul not believing Moses...what does it take to convince him! I agree about the leper scenes and also the slightly homo erotic scenes between Ben Her and Messala...well, more on Messala's side. Those men from vaudeville were the kings...at least to me they were and are.

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  4. Great choices!

    I adore The Ten Commandments, I used it before so it killed me not to be able to this time, with Chuckles Heston ramrod straight at all times and MISS Anne Baxter clutching her jewel box and playing to the back row. Of course who can blame her when she's trying to make lines like "Oh, Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool!" work. But mixed in amongst all the showboating and spectacle are a few good performances-Yvonne de Carlo is really quite fine since she keeps it naturalistic. I own the special edition and watch it every Easter season.

    I'm not as fond of Ben-Hur as you finding it a slog outside of the chariot race and Stephen Boyd's interesting take on Messala.

    Forum is a nice unexpected choice. I like rather than love it but it is definitely a unique film with some real laughs.

    I know there are some more contemporary films which fit but to me films about the ancient world means 50's Biblical spectacle. Since I used Commandments before I had to turn to some lesser knowns.

    Quo Vadis? (1951)-Huge, impressive epic of Nero’s (Peter Ustinov) reign and his persecution of the Christians. Against the broader scale of the story (with amazing sets and a literal cast of thousands) is the tale of Roman general Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) who falls in love with the Christian Lygia (Deborah Kerr) and slowly adopts her religion, a very dangerous decision for the time. Vast in scope with pageantry and a human feel that can’t be replicated by CGI that thanks to the direction and performances, Leo Genn is particularly fine as Marcus’s Uncle Petronius, remains more accessible than many similar films of the period.

    Land of the Pharaohs (1955)-Hooty nonsense about the building of the Great Pyramid in ancient Egypt. Packed with quality British actors, including Jack Hawkins, James Robertson Justice and Sydney Chaplin, extravagantly playing to the back row and best of all (well most campily of all anyway) a young and very beautiful Joan Collins vamping it up as the pharaoh’s wife Nellifer. To say she’s good would be a stretch but she sure is entertaining. The usually excellent Howard Hawks doesn’t seem to have a handle on the pace of the story so despite the florid ridiculousness of the picture it occasionally drags.

    Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)-Fictional sequel to The Robe picks up where that film ended. The movie follows two stories: faithful Demetrius (Victor Mature) the soldier converted to Christianity in the first picture is pressed into being a gladiator and catches the eye of the salacious Messalina (Susan Hayward) wife of Emperor Caligula’s uncle which causes a crisis of conscience. Meanwhile the mad Caligula pursues Jesus’s robe believing it to have magical powers. Star-studded if improbably cast (i.e. Ernest Borgnine as a Roman centurion) with future stars Anne Bancroft and Julie Newmar appearing briefly. Nicely produced if a bit overblown.

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    1. Yes...Anne Baxter was chewing the scenery wasn't she? I love her lines and often quote them along with yul's " So shall it be written, so shall it be done" . I have to say, I have not seen any of your picks but have wanted to for a long time especially Quo Vadis. Joan Collinsin a biblical epic just sounds like she is channeling Dynasty:) Ernest Borgnine as a centurion is almost as bad as John Wayne as one of those.

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  5. I choose the original Star Wars trilogy, because you didn't specify it had to be on Earth. :)

    "the love boat sinking" - Ha.

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    1. I love your choices and they would fit!

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  6. I've seen the first two, can't recall ever even hearing of the last one. Have to give it a go by the sounds of it. Gladiator is a good choice as well.

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    1. I think you would like the last one if you can find it.

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  7. I've seen and enjoyed all of these. They used to play The Ten Commandments here every Easter, which I always thought odd since Easter is about Jesus, not the Exodus.

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    1. Yes, this is true but it is biblical. What is stranger is trying to make the Sound Of Music a Christmas favourite since it takes place in the summer with Nazis.

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  8. I can't really think of any off-hand. I've seen Gladiator but only liked it, I didn't quite love it

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  9. I've seen Ben-Hur and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. I'm not a Ben-Hur/Charlton Heston fan. Although I'm a Christian, I find that most movies related to Biblical stories are dull or overwrought, so I've never watched The Ten Commandments.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. It can be a bit overwrought but I still love this long movie because it is a combo of great stars, great effects but with some fun things the actors say especially Anne Baxter. I hope you give it a chance one day.

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  10. Probably one for the Brits only, but Up Pompei. Mainly a tv series but did turn into a film. The great Frankie Howerd. Ooh, er, missus!

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    1. I have to look this up because I don't know it.

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  11. Ten Commandments is incredible, but so is Ben-Hur. I love it that classic movies like to play it big. Just look at modern take on such stories: Exodus for example or the remake of Ben-Hur. Just silly.

    Great picks anyway!

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    1. I haven't seen the new Ben Hur but I want to. It doesn't look that great because I think they miss the way it should be done.

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  12. I wonder if Mel Brooks was influenced by A Funny Thing. It reminds me so much of his movies. Or is it the other way around? I love Buster Keaton.

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    1. No...I think you might be on to something. Mel Brooks was already in the business but he hadn't made his most famous movies yet so I bet he was influenced by this one.

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  13. I loved The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur (understand they are making or have made, a new one). Just seen Yul Brynner in one of my favourites, The King and I. Don't think I ever saw Funny Thing.

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    1. I have just watched Ben Hur again, I taped it years ago, it is still a great movie.

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    2. Yes they did remake Ben Hur last year but it tanked at the box office. I still have to see the 1925 version

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    3. 1925? I didn't know it was made that early. I have the Charlton Heston version.

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  14. I have not seen any of these. I know, the first two are on TV all the time. But Biblical epics... I don't do the Bible.

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    1. These are fun to watch especially when one takes into consideration the amazing effects from The Ten Commandments. All the big stars of the day came out to watch the chariot scene...it's pretty cool.

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  15. We own the dvds to Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments. Watch them a couple of times a year, usually around Easter, for sure! I have also seen a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, but it has been some time. I remember thinking it was funny, but do not remember all the details, having only seen it once. Might be time to revisit it! Thanks, Birgit!

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    1. I have the first 2 as well but still need to get A Funny Thing on DVD...I love that movie

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  16. I haven't seen any of these but Ben Hur is (still) on my watchlist. I just want to read the book first.

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    1. Usually if one reads the book first it means the Kiss of death for the movie because the movie rarely measures up to the book.

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  17. I am horrible at watching movies... yes, I'm reminded once again. I think I saw the Ten Commandments as a kid, but I don't remember much about it. I suppose I need to get busy...

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    1. The Ten Commandments are fun to watch and the Angels of death always freak me out.

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  18. When it comes to Biblical films, Ben Hur is my number one choice! (The scene when he discovers his mother and sister have leprosy still haunts me.)

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. That scene is a great scene as well as when the one guard first sees them. I also was taken by the. 2 scenes with Jesus whom we never see but know who it is. Grea movie

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  19. I've never seen A Funny Thing..., but the first two I've not only seen a few times, but I also have them on CD. I've always liked Biblical epics. My father used to take us to the theater to see whatever was out because he liked to see them too and I think he kind of saw them as a sort of Bible education for us.

    Also like some of the ones already mentioned including Gladiator. As for silent films I like Intolerance which has four concurrently running stories, two of which are set in ancient times.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I have seen quite a few biblical films but still have to see the great Intolerance. The sets from ancient Babylon are rightly famous.

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  20. You picked great ones! Not sure which I'd pick... Buxom Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra? Would Monty Python's Life of Brian & Holy Grail count? I loved those! Wishing you a great weekend!

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    1. cleopatra and Life of Brian would count and others have chosen these films. Cleo is a bit long winded and the behind the scenes seems more eventful than the movie. I love Life of Brian...tooo funny and intelligent

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  21. BIRGIT ~
    'Ben-Hur' is probably my favorite of the Biblical epics. I like how we never actually see the face of Jesus on the screen. And although I haven't seen it in ages, I remember 'A Funny Thing Happened...' being, well... funny.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    Check out my new blog @
    (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...

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    1. Yes, Jesus is never seen, just understood. The famous chariot scene is great along when Ben Hur takes his mom and sister out from the leper colony.

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  22. I have heard of two of these films, but know no one who has seen any of the three. I really appreciate your synopses of these films, and the humor you share along the way, too. I laughed and laughed at "love boat sinking."

    I wanted to comment on the comment you left about the ink I used to transfer the images to fabric. I used TONER INK from my LASER printer, not dye, pigment, or solvent ink used in rubber stamping. Thanks for the comment, though, because I must not have been exactly clear in my tutorial.

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    1. Glad I made you laugh:) ahh I see....I hope you find a way to transfer the image

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  23. The first two were huge in the 50s weren't they?
    Hope your weekend is grand:))

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    1. Yes both films were huge. Ben Hur won the most Oscars until Love Boat Sinking

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  24. Great picks...The first 2 are films I have to rewatch just about every time they are aired. Somewhat dated as to special effects used in films now, but I still love them, and the actors too. It's just a good afternoon -or evening - to sit and enjoy these well made films annually and take yourself back to a kinder/gentler time. #3 is one I've seen, but at the moment, not really remembering a lot about. #1 & #2 are among my fav all time films, though. TFS & Hugs. (and even though the sinking boat had more impressive special effects, don't think the characters had the chops that Mr. Heston did!)

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  25. Birgit, Your first two picks are wonderful classics that I grew up watching every year about this time! We actually own both on DVD but we haven't see either in a very long time. The last flick looks like a very funny movie and one we haven't seen. So, I'm definitely going to look for it. Thanks for sharing and for visiting. I invite you to visit Curious as a Cathy for a little mewsic and learn about my AprilA2Z challenge theme reveal!

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  26. I never did see a Funny Thing Happened, though after reading this I think I need too.
    Hope you're having a great, pain free week.

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  27. I've seen the first two, so I'll say I'd choose the last one. And it's a comedy, so I'm always up for a good laugh. I was never a Charleton Heston fan. He just couldn't act.

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  28. A Funny Thing Happened, etc. is an inspired choice for this list! Great film.

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