Charlton Heston was a renowned American actor known for his commanding presence and powerful performances. He starred in numerous critically acclaimed films throughout his career, leaving a lasting impression on the film industry.
From epic dramas to science fiction thrillers, Heston’s performances were always unforgettable.
Some of his best-known films include “Ben-Hur,” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, “The Ten Commandments,” “Planet of the Apes,” and “Touch of Evil.”
Heston’s performances in these films are considered iconic and have cemented his status as one of the greatest actors of his generation.
Best Charlton Heston Movies
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the best Charlton Heston movies.
1. The Ten Commandments (1956)
“The Ten Commandments” is a 1956 epic drama film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston in the lead role of Moses. The film tells the story of Moses, who rises to power in ancient Egypt and leads the Hebrew people to freedom.
Heston delivers a commanding performance as Moses, portraying the character’s strength, determination, and faith. The film’s grand scale, stunning visuals, and memorable score make it a classic of the epic film genre.
It was also a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of its time.
Heston’s portrayal of Moses is widely regarded as one of his best performances, and his on-screen presence helped to solidify his status as a Hollywood icon. “The Ten Commandments” remains a beloved classic and a testament to Heston’s talent and enduring legacy in film.
2. Ben-Hur (1959)
“Ben-Hur” is a 1959 epic historical drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the titular role.
The film tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince who is betrayed by his childhood friend Messala and forced into slavery. He eventually gains his freedom and seeks revenge against Messala in a chariot race.
Heston’s portrayal of Ben-Hur is widely regarded as one of his most iconic performances. His ability to convey the character’s emotional journey and transformation from a vengeful slave to a forgiving man is a testament to his acting prowess.
The chariot race sequence, one of the most famous in film history, is a thrilling showcase of Heston’s physicality and charisma.
“Ben-Hur” won a record-breaking 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Heston, solidifying its place as a cinematic masterpiece. The film remains a timeless classic and a shining example of Heston’s talent and influence in film.
3. The Big Country (1958)
“The Big Country” is a 1958 western film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston as James McKay, a retired sea captain who moves to the American West to marry his fiancée.
The film tells the story of McKay’s struggles to adjust to life in the West and the conflicts that arise between two feuding families.
Heston’s performance as McKay is subtle and nuanced, a departure from his more bombastic roles in epics like “Ben-Hur” and “The Ten Commandments.” His portrayal of the character’s inner turmoil and his refusal to be drawn into the feud is a
The film’s stunning cinematography and score also contribute to its status as a classic of the western genre.
Heston’s performance, along with those of co-stars Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons, elevates “The Big Country” beyond a typical western and showcases the versatility of his talent as an actor.
4. The Buccaneer (1958)
“The Buccaneer” is a 1958 historical adventure film directed by Anthony Quinn and starring Charlton Heston as pirate Jean Lafitte. The film tells the story of Lafitte’s involvement in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.
Heston’s portrayal of Lafitte is a highlight of the film, showcasing his ability to bring depth and humanity to a character often portrayed as a one-dimensional villain.
His on-screen chemistry with co-star Yul Brynner, who plays General Andrew Jackson, is electric, and their scenes together are some of the film’s most memorable.
Despite mixed critical reviews, “The Buccaneer” was a commercial success, cementing Heston’s status as a Hollywood leading man. His performance as Lafitte remains a standout in his filmography and is a testament to his range as an actor.
5. Soylent Green (1973)
“Soylent Green” is a 1973 science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Charlton Heston as detective Frank Thorn in a dystopian future where overpopulation and environmental degradation have led to a severe food shortage.
The film follows Thorn’s investigation into the mysterious and disturbing practices of the Soylent Corporation, which produces the food substitute Soylent Green.
Heston’s performance as Thorn is one of the film’s strengths, as he portrays a tough, world-weary detective who becomes increasingly disillusioned with the world around him.
The film’s bleak and unsettling portrayal of the future, along with its themes of environmentalism and corporate greed, remain relevant today.
“Soylent Green” was a critical and commercial success and is considered a classic of the science fiction genre.
Heston’s performance, along with those of co-stars Edward G. Robinson and Leigh Taylor-Young, adds a layer of humanity and depth to the film’s dark and thought-provoking themes.
6. The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
“The Greatest Show on Earth” is a 1952 drama film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston as Brad Braden, the manager of a traveling circus. The film follows the lives and struggles of the circus performers and staff as they prepare for a major performance.
Heston’s performance as Braden is charismatic and commanding, as he navigates the challenges and drama that arise in the world of the circus. His chemistry with co-star Betty Hutton, who plays the star performer, is a highlight of the film.
“The Greatest Show on Earth” won the Academy Award for Best Picture, solidifying its status as a classic of Hollywood cinema. Heston’s performance is a standout in an ensemble cast, showcasing his talent for playing strong and dynamic characters.
7. The Omega Man (1971)
“The Omega Man” is a 1971 science fiction film directed by Boris Sagal and starring Charlton Heston as Robert Neville, a survivor of a global pandemic that has turned most of humanity into zombie-like creatures.
Neville, immune to the virus, spends his days hunting and killing the infected while searching for a cure.
Heston’s performance as Neville is intense and brooding, as he grapples with his isolation and the horrors of the new world around him. His physicality and action skills are showcased in the film’s thrilling sequences of Neville fighting off the infected.
“The Omega Man” is considered a cult classic and is notable for its themes of isolation and survival, which are relevant to audiences even today.
Heston’s performance as Neville is a standout in his filmography, showcasing his ability to convey the emotional depth and physicality required for a science fiction action hero.
8. Planet of the Apes (1968)
“Planet of the Apes” is a 1968 science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starring Charlton Heston as astronaut George Taylor. The film follows Taylor and his crew as they crash-land on a planet where intelligent apes rule over primitive humans.
Heston’s performance as Taylor is iconic, as he portrays a man struggling to understand the bizarre and frightening world he has landed in. His on-screen presence and commanding voice help to elevate the film beyond a typical science fiction adventure.
“Planet of the Apes” was a critical and commercial success, spawning several sequels and reboots in the decades since its release.
Heston’s performance is widely regarded as one of his best, and his character’s final line in the film, “You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!” has become a pop culture catchphrase.
9. Will Penny (1967)
“Will Penny” is a 1967 Western film directed by Tom Gries and starring Charlton Heston as Will Penny, an aging cowboy who finds work on a ranch and falls in love with the ranch owner’s daughter.
The film follows Penny’s struggles to survive in a harsh and violent world, while also trying to build a life for himself.
Heston’s performance as Penny is understated and poignant, as he portrays a man who has lived a hard life and is looking for a second chance. His on-screen chemistry with co-star Joan Hackett, who plays the ranch owner’s daughter, adds a layer of tenderness and warmth to the film.
“Will Penny” is often cited as one of Heston’s most underrated performances, showcasing his range as an actor beyond the larger-than-life epics for which he was best known.
The film’s themes of redemption and the struggles of the working class in the American West still resonate with audiences today.
10. El Cid (1961)
“El Cid” is a 1961 historical epic film directed by Anthony Mann and starring Charlton Heston as Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, a Castilian knight and military leader during the 11th century.
The film tells the story of Díaz de Vivar’s struggles to unite the kingdoms of Castile and León and his love affair with the princess Jimena.
Heston’s performance as Díaz de Vivar is powerful and commanding, as he portrays a man who is both a warrior and a statesman. His on-screen chemistry with co-star Sophia Loren, who plays Jimena, adds a layer of romance and passion to the film.
“El Cid” was a critical and commercial success, solidifying Heston’s status as a le.
3 Reasons To Watch Charlton Heston Movies
Iconic Performances: Charlton Heston was a versatile and talented actor, known for his commanding presence and powerful performances.
From historical epics like “Ben-Hur” and “The Ten Commandments” to Westerns like “The Big Country” and “Major Dundee,” Heston’s filmography is filled with memorable characters and performances that have become cinematic icons.
Classic Films: Many of Charlton Heston’s movies are considered classics of their respective genres, such as the epic historical dramas “The Agony and the Ecstasy” and “55 Days at Peking,” as well as the seminal science fiction film “Planet of the Apes.”
These films have stood the test of time and continue to be enjoyed by audiences today.
Cultural Significance: Charlton Heston’s movies often tackled important themes and issues, such as civil rights (“Soylent Green”), war and patriotism (“Midway”), and social inequality (“Ruby Gentry”).
By watching his movies, audiences can gain insights into the social and cultural issues of their time, as well as the timeless human struggles that are a part of the human experience.
Best Charlton Heston Movies – Wrap Up
Charlton Heston was a prolific and talented actor who left an indelible mark on the film industry. From historical epics and Westerns to science fiction and drama, Heston’s filmography is diverse and impressive.
Some of his most iconic roles include Judah Ben-Hur in “Ben-Hur,” Moses in “The Ten Commandments,” and George Taylor in “Planet of the Apes.”
Heston’s performances were often larger-than-life, showcasing his commanding presence and talent for playing heroic and complex characters.
His movies are not only entertaining but also culturally significant, exploring important themes and issues that continue to resonate with audiences today.