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Movie Source: Internet Archive (archive.org)
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Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ

1925

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a 1925 American silent epic adventure-drama film directed by Fred Niblo and written by June Mathis based on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by General Lew Wallace. Starring Ramon Novarro as the title character, the film is the first feature-length adaptation of the novel and second overall, following the 1907 short.

In 1997, Ben-Hur was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Ben-Hur is a wealthy young Jewish prince and boyhood friend of the powerful Roman tribune, Messala. When an accident and a false accusation leads to Ben-Hur's arrest, Messala, who has become corrupt and arrogant, makes sure Ben-Hur and his family are jailed and separated.

Ben-Hur is sentenced to slave labor in a Roman war galley. Along the way, he unknowingly encounters Jesus, the carpenter's son who offers him water. Once aboard ship, his attitude of defiance and strength impresses a Roman admiral, Quintus Arrius, who allows him to remain unchained. This actually works in the admiral's favor because when his ship is attacked and sunk by pirates, Ben-Hur saves him from drowning.

Arrius then treats Ben-Hur as a son, and over the years the young man grows strong and becomes a victorious chariot racer. This eventually leads to a climactic showdown with Messala in a chariot race, in which Ben-Hur is the victor. However, Messala does not die, as he does in the more famous 1959 adaptation of the novel.

Ben-Hur is eventually reunited with his mother and sister, who are suffering from leprosy but are miraculously cured by Jesus Christ.

Cast
Main

Ramon Novarro as Ben-Hur
Francis X. Bushman as Messala
May McAvoy as Esther
Betty Bronson as Mary
Claire McDowell as Princess of Hur
Kathleen Key as Tirzah
Carmel Myers as Iras
Nigel de Brulier as Simonides
Mitchell Lewis as Sheik Ilderim
Leo White as Sanballat
Frank Currier as Arrius
Charles Belcher as Balthazar
Dale Fuller as Amrah
Winter Hall as Joseph
Claude Payton as Jesus Christ (uncredited)

Some notable crowd extras during chariot race
Reginald Barker
John Barrymore
Lionel Barrymore
Clarence Brown
Joan Crawford
Marion Davies
Douglas Fairbanks
George Fitzmaurice
Sidney Franklin
John Gilbert
Dorothy Gish
Lillian Gish
Samuel Goldwyn
Sid Grauman
Rupert Julian
Henry King
Harold Lloyd
Carole Lombard
Myrna Loy
Colleen Moore
Mary Pickford

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