Saturday, January 26, 2002


Paul Newman's much-hated Hollywood debut; it's a Biblical epic-wannabe in which Newman plays a young silversmith in the first century A.D. who goes from being poor to being an heir to being a slave. He meets up with a group of fledgling Christians and takes the job of crafting a silver chalice for use in their communion ritual. Virginia Mayo teeters on tfhe brink of over-the-top as his pagan honey; Pier Angeli is his pleasant Christian love interest. Jack Palance plays a magician who gets the best scene: he builds a gigantic tower and decides to fake a midair flight in front of a crowd. However, he goes a bit nutty, thinks he's become a savior to compete with Jesus, and tries to fly for real. He can't.

Though Newman has disowned the movie, and it is largely a dragging bore, the bizarre minimalist sets are interesting. One critic said the sets made it look like an SF allegory, like a Twilight Zone episode, but I think it winds up feeling more like an avant-garde, Off-Broadway play. The acting is silly and the whole thing comes off feeling like a DeMille knockoff done with very little money, very little talent, and almost no enthusiasm. Thankfully, Newman bounced back quickly.

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