Ben Hur

Juli Kearns Cinema Leave a Comment

The other night I saw Ben Hur for the first time. Marty hadn’t seen it either and begged me several times to turn it off.

“Hnh? Gay!” I thought, watching Massalla (Stephen Boyd) and Ben Hur (Charlton Heston), or so it seemed to me, but this was crazy-making as I couldn’t see Charlton Heston knowingly playing gay subtext.

I also for some reason kept thinking, “Count of Monte Cristo.”

Afterwards I looked up Ben Hur, first the novel, which is a bad book that is composed of set-up and dialogue. Set-ups are down the order of “…Ben-Hur entered Ilderim’s tent. He had taken a plunge into the lake, and breakfasted, and appeared now in an under-tunic, sleeveless, and with skirt scarcely reaching to the knee.”

The kind of description that was passed off to me as writing when I was a kid, and it only makes sense that Ben-Hur reined supreme until Gone With the Wind, which at least added a little personality oomph.

The author, it seems, was partly inspired by “The Count of Monte Cristo” and had it in mind for much of the book.

Then I looked up the movie and found that Gore Vidal had been an uncredited screenwriter and that there was indeed a homosexual subtext and that Stephen Boyd was advised to play his part as a vengeful rejected lover while Charlton Heston was oblivious.

(I’ve not a clue when I originally saved this to post. Was moved up to the present unintentionally.)

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