Although a bit like a four-hour Sunday school lesson, Ben-Hur is not without its compensations, above all, of course, the chariot race (which was directed not by Wyler but by Andrew Marton, and it shows). The rest is made interesting by the most sexually ambivalent characters sporting togas this side of Satyricon. When not fondling phallic substitutes, Heston and Boyd gaze admiringly into each other's eyes, but when they fall out—well, hell hath no fury like a closet queen scorned. Heston ends up naked in the galleys where he's rowing and Jack Hawkins is commanding; one look at Chuck's rippling muscles, and Hawkins adopts him. Heston goes back for revenge on Boyd, who's lying around in the baths with his men looking like they're auditioning for Sebastiane. Along the way, an unbilled Jesus performs miracles for Ben's kinsfolk, which are convincing enough to convert him. The movie could be trying to say that for some people religion is an escape from their sexuality, but it seems unlikely.
Cast and crew