March 16 – 28, 2001

The American CInematheque Presents...

Larger Than Life: A Tribute to Charlton Heston In Person!



We’re very excited to welcome one of Hollywood’s true legends, Charlton Heston, to the Egyptian Theatre for the first Los Angeles retrospective of his work!

Series Compiled by Dennis Bartok.


Special Thanks to: Carol Lanning; Jeff Joseph/SABUCAT; Peter Langs; John Kirk/MGM-UA; Cathye Clark/PARAMOUNT PICTURES REPERTORY; Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS. CLASSICS; Rob Stone/UCLA FILM & TELEVISION ARCHIVE; Fritz Herzog/ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES – Film Archive; Janet Hill/MIRAMAX FILMS; Ed Zeier/UNIVERSAL PICTURES; Michael Schlesinger/COLUMBIA PICTURES REPERTORY; Joe Dante.



Tickets available 30 days in advance.


SCHEDULE (by series)

SCHEDULE (by date)







From Moses to Michelangelo, medieval war lords to the last man on Earth, legendary actor Charlton Heston has made a career of playing characters driven to the far extremes of physical, and often spiritual, endurance – "My admiration for man is in terms of the extraordinary individual, rather than man in the mass," Heston once observed, and if anything defines his work, it’s the degree to which he’s literally stood out from (and above) the pack. Watch his performance as the tormented, unwilling prophet in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, the bone-weary range-rider in WILL PENNY, and you see a beautiful balancing act between desperation and perseverance, ego and absolution. It’s no wonder that Heston has maintained a life-long love for Shakespeare and the stage -- his finest performances are Shakespearean in both their grand ambition and their rich, human detail.

Born in 1923 in Evanston, Illinois, Heston studied speech and theater in college; after a short stint in the Air Force, he moved to New York City in 1948, where he quickly found supporting roles in Broadway productions, and was soon discovered by the fledgling TV industry for lead roles in live productions of "Jane Eyre" and others. His second Hollywood feature, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, established him in the rugged, larger than life roles that became his trademark as an actor; by the time of TOUCH OF EVIL in 1958, he carried enough weight in the industry to force Universal to hire Orson Welles as director for the film.



Friday, March 16 – 7:00 PM

Charlton Heston & Janet Leigh In-Person!!

TOUCH OF EVIL, 1958, Universal, 111 min. Orson Welles’s hallucinatory, off-kilter masterpiece stars Heston in one of his finest roles as a Mexican policeman trapped on the wrong side of the border, where a corpulent, corrupt cop (played by Welles himself) tries to stop him from digging into the past. Janet Leigh co-stars as Heston’s newlywed wife, menaced by leather-clad Mercedes McCambridge and her gang of juvenile delinquents. Co-starring Akim Tamiroff, Marlene Dietrich, Joseph Calleia. We’re screening the restored version, reconstructed in 1998 according to Welles’ original notes.


Discussion following with Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh.

Saturday, March 17 – 5:00 PM

Charlton Heston In-Person!!

THE BIG COUNTRY, 1958, MGM/UA, 165 min. Former ship captain Gregory Peck and seasoned ranch-hand Heston clash over water rights, women and more, in BEN-HUR director William Wyler’s sweeping portrait of clan rivalries in the American West. Carroll Baker co-stars as Peck’s bride-to-be, with Jean Simmons as the independent-minded schoolteacher who arouses everyone’s passions. Discussion following with Charlton Heston.


Saturday, March 17 – 8:45 PM

KHARTOUM, 1966, MGM/UA, 134 min. Cast as British general Charles Gordon, Heston delivers one of his richest performances as a career soldier wracked by political and personal uncertainty, struggling to outmaneuver cagey Moslem fanatic Laurence Olivier (at his most wildly stylized). An epic, if sobering account, of the limits of colonial power in the 19th century, from noted British filmmaker Basil Dearden (SARABAND FOR DEAD LOVERS, THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU).


Sunday, March 18 – 5:00 PM

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, 1956, Paramount, 220 min. "Let his name be stricken from every pillar and obelisk!," orders imperious pharaoh Yul Brynner, as favored son-turned-religious rebel Heston prepares to lead his people from bondage in Egypt. Cecil B. De Mille’s glorious remake of his earlier 1923 TEN COMMANDMENTS emphasized the colossal spectacle of the Biblical epic, but never downplayed the tremendous human emotions at the core of the story. Look for Heston’s three-month old son Fraser as the baby Moses in the bullrushes.


Wednesday, March 21 – 7:30 PM

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, 1952, Paramount, 153 min. Cecil B. de Mille’s wildly entertaining big-top spectacle stars Heston as a tight-lipped, two-fisted circus foreman pursued by lonely acrobat Betty Hutton and slinky elephant trainer Gloria Grahame, while trying to contend with train wrecks, clowns on the lam and more. "I can’t say what would’ve happened if GREATEST SHOW hadn’t come when it did, but that secured my place as an important performer long enough for me to get a few turns at bat." – Heston.


Friday, March 23 – 7:00 PM

Charlton Heston In-Person!!

THE OMEGA MAN, 1971, Warners, 98 min. Dir. Boris Sagal. Whiskey-drinking, WOODSTOCK-watching scientist Heston faces the possible extinction of mankind, while bug-eyed Anthony Zerbe and his legions of soul-brother vampires prowl the night, in this gonzo adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic novel I Am Legend. Here, Heston remade himself as an über-cool 1970’s action star, cruising the plague-ridden streets of L.A. in a convertible Mustang.  Discussion following with Charlton Heston and co-star Paul Koslo.


Friday, March 23 – 9:30 PM


SOYLENT GREEN, 1973, MGM (Warners), 97 min. Dir. Richard Fleischer. Based on Harry Harrison’s novel Make Room! Make Room!, SOYLENT GREEN is even more frightening (and prescient) today than when it was released. Future cop Heston tries to track down a minor politician’s killer – and uncovers the ultimate horror of mankind’s new place in the food chain. With the great Edward G. Robinson in his final film role.

THE WAR LORD, 1965, Universal, 121 min. Based on Leslie Stevens’ play The Lovers, THE WAR LORD stars Heston as an 11th century Norman knight charged with keeping the peace in a rural village near the North Sea. His ill-timed love affair with local girl Rosemary Forsyth pushes the local serfs to rebellion, in this rousing, intelligent history film from future PLANET OF THE APES director Franklin J. Schaffner.


Saturday, March 24 – 5:00 PM

Charlton Heston In-Person!!

EL CID, 1961, Miramax, 184 min. Of all the massive Hollywood costume films of the early 1960’s, we’ll pick this as our favorite: Heston (who else could play this role??) and Sophia Loren co-star as the legendary Spanish warrior and his wife, in director Anthony Mann’s epic masterpiece. "I’ll never forget how I woke up one morning and there was a misty fog over the whole of Valencia ... I yelled at Heston, ‘Look, I’ll never capture this again. Put on this armour and ride with a white horse across the sands ...’ And in ten minutes we got it." – Anthony Mann. Discussion following with Charlton Heston.

Saturday, March 24 – 9:00 PM


MAJOR DUNDEE, 1965, Columbia, 124 min. Tragically re-edited by the studio before its release, director Sam Peckinpah’s ill-fated Western may never be seen in its full form, but still has enough raw, ragged glory to turn heads. Heston stars as a Union officer at the end of the Civil War who’s forced to depend on a crew of deserters, murderers and Confederates, as he pursues a renegade Apache band into Mexico. In a show of support reminiscent of TOUCH OF EVIL eight years earlier, Heston threw his support behind Peckinpah during shooting, allowing him to finish the film despite fierce studio interference. Co-starring Richard Harris, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson.

WILL PENNY, 1968, Paramount, 109 min. Dir. Tom Gries. Mournful, adult Western with Heston at his very best as a dusty, middle-aged cowhand who runs afoul of sadistic rancher Donald Pleasance and squirrelly son Bruce Dern. Joan Hacket delivers a fine performance as Heston’s prairie love, with strong support from Western veterans Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens.


Wednesday, March 28 – 7:30 PM

55 DAYS AT PEKING, 1963, Warner Bros. Classics, 150 min. From EL CID producer Samuel Bronston and REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE director Nicholas Ray, the rarely-screened 55 DAYS AT PEKING is a sweeping portrait of European and American powers caught up in the Boxer Rebellion, with Heston as a hard-headed U.S. marine trapped inside a fortress with lovely Russian baroness Ava Gardner and British ambassador David Niven. Heston’s scenes with Gardner are among his most heartbreakingly romantic, aided by composer Dimitri Tiomkin’s exquisite score.