Films featuring
Charleton Heston

Tombstone

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Tombstone was the first shot fired in a double-barreled blast of Wyatt Earp movies in 1993 and 1994. While Lawrence Kasdan and Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp was too long, plodding and ponderous, George Pan Cosmato’s entry in the O.K. Corral sweepstakes was violent and operatic, a noisy revenge tale told at a fever pitch. It was also the better movie, even if its fidelity to the facts of Earp’s life was less than letter perfect. Movie audiences have never been that picky about historical accuracy in their westerns. Young Guns did all right and it was hardly a scholarly work on the life of Billy the Kid.

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Hamlet

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When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions.

One might call this the Spinal Tap adaptation of Shakespeare’s greatest play, because everything about it most definitely goes to eleven. The first film of the unabridged text of Hamlet and the last film shot in seventy millimeter as of today, Kenneth Branagh’s brazenly, foolishly ambitious project will be the shortest four hours you ever spent in front of one movie. A broad cast of both veteran Shakespearean actors and many who you would not expect in this kind of film wring both drama and raw emotion out of words often calcified under the dreary mantle of “literature.”

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Beneath the Planet of the Apes

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While this is technically a sequel to the original Planet of the Apes, it’s probably best described as a half-assed remake. This film basically recycles most of the macro-plot elements of the first film, only without much of the same wit, subtlety or substance.

Charleton Heston had the good sense to want to stay far away from this movie and only agreed to appear when the producers acceded to his request to kill his character and end the film in such a way to preclude any further sequels.

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Planet of the Apes

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Back when I was in high school and college, a local TV station (KTLA channel 5, I think) would periodically run all five Planet of the Apes movies in one week. I developed a great deal of affection for this particular franchise, despite the obvious flaws in most of the sequels. In honor of the new box set available this past week, I am launching a special, semi-official theme week that I’m calling Simians in the Springtime.

Even before Star Wars, the Apes movies blazed the trail for shameless marketing and tie-ins. Every thing you could buy with a Star Wars logo on it, action figures, lunch boxes and games, you could buy a similar Apes-related item a decade earlier. I don’t believe that there ever any Planet of the Apes collectable glasses at Taco Bell, but for virtually everything else under the sun, the apes got there first.

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The Ten Commandments

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There has to be some degree of irony to a film called The Ten Commandments, since one of those commandments says “make no graven images,” and this film does sort of count as one long graven image. Or am I completely off base?

Either way, this is one of those completely “review-proof” films, where any attempt to analyze or criticize it as you would a normal film. For people who love this film, the basic standards of filmmaking are utterly without relevance to their enjoyment of it. Sure, by our definition of what constitutes a good movie, impresario Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical epic is an overacted, overwrought potboiler, but saying so leaves you feeling like a spoilsport, if not a bloody heathen.

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Major Dundee

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Major Dundee is one of Sam Peckinpah’s early works, a highly stylized Western that fits perfectly the outsized performances of its stars, Charleton Heston and Richard Harris. Neither the story, the dialogue or the acting can be called realistic, but it is what it claims to be, a rousing entertainment.

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