This day (April 4) in 1960, the epic movie Ben-Hur collects 11 Oscars at the 32nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony! Based on the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ, written by Lew Wallace and published in 1880, this lengthy film of three hours and 32 minutes was the most expensive made up to that point (costing somewhere around $15 million and filmed in Technicolor on location in Italy).
The story centers around the young Jewish man Judah Ben-Hur, who loses his fortune, his family, and his freedom as a result of the oppressive Roman rule. He eventually triumphs, thanks to the partial intervention of Jesus Christ.
Some trivia about the famous chariot race scene:
- It took three weeks to shoot and used around 15,000 extras.
- The set was constructed on 18 acres of back-lot space at Cinecitta Studios outside Rome.
- Charlton Heston (Judah Ben-Hur) and Stephen Boyd (Messala, Judah’s boyhood friend turned bitter enemy) did most of their own chariot driving.
- Best Picture
- Best Director
- Best Actor (Charlton Heston)
- Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith, playing an Arab sheik who befriends Ben-Hur)
- Best Color Cinematography
- Best Color Art Direction/Set Direction
- Best Sound
- Best Score
- Best Film Editing
- Best Color Costume Design
- Best Special Effects
The movie was also nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, but that honor went to Room at the Top. Ben-Hur’s record number of Oscars was not matched until 1997’s Titanic. In 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King also tied the record.
Ben-Hur in Our Catalog
Winner of 11 Academy Awards, Ben Hur is one of the great classic movies of its time. This is the 50th Anniversary Box set, which includes several extras for the collector.