Charlton Heston passed away a few days ago—I was a fan of Heston’s for five films he made that I loved: The Ten Commandments, Touch of Evil, Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man and Soylent Green. Heston’s acting style was a bit on the macho side. He was often cast as a survivor or “last man alive” and he’s blessed with that voice. He was known for being the NRA spokesman, or president or whatever it was he did for them, in his later years but it is those five films that etched Heston into my film memory.
The Ten Commandments was a yearly family tradition in my house. ABC would air the epic, usually on a Sunday night starting about 6pm and running until after 10pm. Heston plays Moses in the Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza. As a kid I was was always completely blown away by the huge scale of the film. 1956 was the year. No CGI, just thousands of extras and huge sets as DeMille attempted to bring something to the movies that the emerging television could not replicate (vivid colors you couldn’t get at home either). Heston was the anchor of the film.
Two years later in 1958 Heston takes on one of the leading roles in Orson Welles second best film (uhm, a little film called Citizen Kane would probably have to rank at the top) Touch of Evil. From the mesmerizing first shot it is clear that this was going to be a different, more artistic and intense rendering of the “noir” genre. Heston actually plays a Mexican official in Touch of Evil.
Over a five-year period Heston was cast in three sci-fi cult classics: The Planet of the Apes (1968, one of my favorite films ever), The Omega Man (1971) and Soylent Green (1973). I absolutely loved these three films, as they were dark, strange, futuristic, kind of racy, full of violence, a tad cheesy, full of political statements burning in that era and just so much fun! These are full on genre pictures and I loved them when I saw them as a kid and still am quite fond of them all.
Charlton Heston R.I.P.