11
Apr
08

The Best of Hest: 10 Iconic Charlton Heston Films

As some may know, actor Charlton Heston passed away on April 5, 2008 at the age of 84. With regards to his craft, I have sifted through his 126 films and now present to you the Top 10 Charlton Heston films in order of appearance.

 

 

The Ten Commandments (1956)

 

Straight out of the Old Testament, Heston portrays the life of Moses. His nemesis: Ramses, played by Yul Brynner who inhibits the classic cinematic antagonist. Throw in Edward G. Robinson as Dathan and Vincent Price for good measure. Biblical filmmaking has never gotten better than this.

 

 

 

Touch of Evil (1958)

 

If you’re a film noir person like me, this is on your must-see list (right after “The Maltese Falcon” and “Sunset Boulevard”). Heston plays Ramon Miguel ‘Mike’ Vargas (yes, a Mexican) who is recently married to Janet Leigh and is investigating murder in a Mexican border town. His nemesis: Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles), the epitome of police corruption. I can’t recommend this film enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Ben Hur (1959)

 

Taking a few cues from the Ten Commandments, this time Charlton is Judah Ben Hur, a rich Jewish prince put into slavery by his Roman friend, Messala (Stephen Boyd). What follows are the trials and tribulations of regaining freedom and vengeance. Oh yeah, and some impressive chariot racing.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

El Cid (1961)

 

Heston is the titular character El Cid /Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, the Spanish hero who drove the Moors from Spain. Also stars Sophia Loren. How can you go wrong?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Major Dundee (1965)

 

Cinema has had its fair share of megalomaniacs, from Charles Foster Kane to Daniel Plainview. One of the most overlooked of them is Major Amos Charles Dundee (Heston). It’s the post-Civil War years and a band of Apaches raid Army bases in Texas. Dundee decides to go after them, inducting a group of Confederates (headed by Richard Harris) and ignoring protocol by going into Mexico. Heston is great in a role that’s equivocal to Captain Ahab going after Moby Dick. Other reasons to watch the film include the supporting cast of Richard Harris, James Coburn, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Brock Peters, and Slim Pickens. Of note, this was the first major film from director Sam Peckinpah.

 

 

 

 

Planet of the Apes (1968)

 

The Hest is George Taylor, one of three astronauts that crash-land on a planet where simians rule and humans are the hunted. If you’ve never watched the original, make yourself do so. While current pop culture has given away the ending and every line has become part of American vernacular, there is something about sitting alone and watching this on your own. While Heston came back for a few minutes for the sequel, he did that for the paycheck. This is THE version of the film, unless someone makes a version closer to the book (where the apes had technology, like helicopters).

 

 

 

 

The Omega Man (1971)

 

In the second incarnation of Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” story, Heston takes the role Vincent Price played previous, except this time he’s up against the mutations caused by biological warfare whom have came together and called themselves the ‘Family,’ headed-up by Paul Koslo. Most notable about this movie (aside from the amount of times it’s been referenced on the ‘Simpsons’ or what the new ‘I Am Legend’ ripped from it) is the scene where Heston is driving down the streets of abandoned L.A. He stops, grabs his machine gun, and starts firing at a mutant. Classic.

 

 

 

 

 Soylent Green (1973)

 

The year is 2022 and the Earth is overcrowded, which doesn’t bode well for the already overcrowded New York City and Detective Robert Thorn. When a murder is linked to the obsessive food Soylent Green, Thorn investigates and finds out the deadly secret behind the new food. Also stars Brock Peters and Edward G. Robinson. Go ahead. Tell them, tell them all.

 

 

 

 

 Airport 1975 (1974)

 

I’m guessing they were going for a later date of release… Besides that Heston is Alan Murdock, a man who takes control of a 747 after a small plane collides with it, rendering the flight without a pilot. Somehow, they must land that plane! Also stars Gloria Swanson, Karen Black, Linda Blair, and Dana Andrews (no relation to me).

 

 

 

 

Earthquake (1974)

 

It’s still 1974 and Heston takes a shot at another disaster film: “Earthquake.” In it he plays construction engineer Stuart Graff, estranged from his wife Remy (Ava Gardner) and is having an affair with the widow of a co-worker (Genevieve Bujold). One of the eponymous disaster flicks of the Seventies, it also stars Richard Roundtree, Victoria Principal, and Walter Matthau.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable mentions:

 

While Heston’s ‘leading man’ status waned around the late Seventies/ early Eighties, he became a supporting actor in the Nineties. His bit parts included:

 

Almost an Angel (1990)

 

He played God to Paul Hogan, but went uncredited.

 

 

Wayne’s World 2 (1993)

 

When Wayne (Mike Myers) is doing his homage to ‘The Graduate,’ he replaces Al Hansen (‘Bad Actor’) for Charlton Heston (‘Good Actor’).

 

 

True Lies (1994)

 

Heston is Spence Trilby, who overlooks the organization Ah-nuld works for. Oh yeah, and he wears an eye patch.

 

 

In the Mouth of Madness (1995)

 

I put this one in here not so much because Heston was in it, but it’s a fave movie of mine. Heston is the boss of a publishing company who’s looking for their star author, Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow). If you a fan of horror/ H.P. Lovecraft, check into it.

 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your own Hest-Fest.

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2 Responses to “The Best of Hest: 10 Iconic Charlton Heston Films”


  1. September 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I would put the early Heston adventure SECRET OF THE INCAS in my top ten Heston movies. Its so fantastic that it nearly blew my mind when first viewing it in 1963.

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