Academy Award - BEST PICTURE - 1959
In Jerusalem at the time of Christ, the wealthy, Jewish Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston at his studliest!) is betrayed by his childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd), now a Roman officer. Ben-Hur is sent off as a galley slave, his wealth and property is confiscated, and his mother and sister are imprisoned. After many trials and tribulations including a sea battle, time in the Roman coliseum with many opportunities for manly bare chests to be featured on screen, and adoption by his Roman master Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins), Ben-Hur gets back to Jerusalem. He drives a chariot for Sheik Ilderim (Hugh Griffith) and faces Messala in a furious chariot race. Messala dies (Stephen Boyd has an amazing death scene). Ben-Hur finds his mother and sister. Jesus appears (as a hand) to give Judah water early in the film, and later to cure his mother and sister from leprosy. Judah witnesses the Crucifixion and learns forgiveness and realizes God's love. He lives happily ever after as a Christian, with Miriam (Martha Scott) his true love.