• Charlton Heston, the movie star known for Biblical blockbusters such as ‘The Ten Commandments” and “Ben-Hur,” died over the weekend at age 84. Heston, who also had a high profile in the political arena – first by marching with Martin Luther King Jr. during the sixties, and later in life as a spokesman for conservative causes such as fighting against gun control legislation – has been off the public stage since 2002, when he announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
- KC's View:
- Regardless of how you feel about Heston’s politics, I think it is fair to say that this was a guy in love with acting and in love with movies, and that was something evident in the gusto with which he attacked virtually every role that he played. That’s not to say that he was the best actor in the world. I’ve never been a big fan of the Biblical epics, and I’m one of the few people who thinks that he’s not very good in Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil,” which I also happen to think is a wildly overrated movie. I also saw him on stage in “Macbeth,” with Vanessa Redgrave, which was the second-worst Shakespeare production I’ve ever seen. (The first being William Hurt in “Richard III,” just as a matter of interest.)
But I love him in two movies, both, ironically, released in 1968. One is “Planet of the Apes,” which is just great science fiction with one of the great all-time final scenes in movies. The other is a largely forgotten western called “Will Penny,” in which he plays an aging cowboy facing a changing landscape that threatens the way he always has lived. And, let’s not forget “Soylent Green” (1973) and “Omega Man” (1971), both of which benefited from his passion for his craft. Which is one of the better things you can say about anyone, in my view.