New York State Writers Institute - Classic Film Series

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Ben-Hur

October 23, 1998 (Friday) at 7:30 p.m.

Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue
(Free and Open to the Public)

(American, 1926, 141 minutes, b&w, 35 mm)
Directed by Fred Niblo
Starring Ramon Novarro, Francis X. Bushman, May McAvoy

The most extravagant film production of the silent era, Ben-Hur boasted a cast of 125,000 and a mind-boggling budget (at that time) of four million dollars. The chariot race and sea battle remain among the most impressive action sequences ever filmed. It is based on the Biblically-flavored novel of ancient Rome by Lew Wallace, one of the best-sellers of the 19th century.

Piano accompaniment is provided by Mike Schiffer. He accompanied his first silent film, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, at Kenyon College in the late 1940's for the opening show of a fellow student's new film society. That student was Paul Newman. Thirty years later he accompanied Erich von Stoheim's FOOLISH WIVES at the Berkshire Athenaeum. Since then he has been improvising scores whenever he gets a chance. His favorites are THE CAMERAMAN and THE GENERAL (Buster Keaton), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (Lon Chaney), THE GOLD RUSH (Charlie Chaplin), and NOSFERATU (Max Schreck).

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