Among the ranks of great actors you will likely find Charlton Heston’s name near the very top since among many he was considered to be with equal in his profession and was during his time someone that no one wanted to speak ill about, unless they knew that there wouldn’t be any blowback. Likely he was not a perfect man, as has been stated in various opinions, but in terms of being an actor he was about as flawless as it gets since he helped to bring about some of the most popular films of his day and was a legend from his time onward. In fact some people couldn’t even speak his name without a hint of reverence creeping in to tinge their words ever so lightly. Whatever he was like off screen is kind of irrelevant at this point since what he did on screen was considered to be nothing short of masterful.
Here are just five of his best film appearances throughout his many years in the business.
He was a ‘there and gone’ kind of character but he was still someone that was enjoyable to see in this film since he added a bit more veracity to it, which wasn’t needed since Kilmer, Russell, Elliott, and Pullman had already done their share along with Powers Booth and Michael Biehn. But playing the part of an aged rancher was still perfect since it allowed him to enter the movie with authority and then quietly slip out the same way. This film was filled with tough guys, but all Heston had to do was stand there, speak a few lines, and resume his tougher than nails posture and it was all good.
4. Soylent Green
One can only hope that the world doesn’t come a state such as this in which corporations have to lie to people about where their food is coming from in order to quell any uprising that might result. Of course that line itself seems to be riddled with inconsistencies since most corporations aren’t exactly transparent about their dealings with the public, or so the rumor goes. But when Thorn finds out what Soylent Green really is the diabolical plot only thickens since the implications of it could mean a solution to hunger but a severe body check to the morality and ethical principles that make us human.
You can almost see how this might have inspired the movie Gladiator, but with far more bloodshed. Judah was a man that had about everything he wanted until he was cast down and made a slave, ruined by the one man that used to be his friend. In time he rises again to prominence and even finds it in him to race the individual in a chariot race. While the man is trampled and he wins, Judah is still disillusioned by Roman rule and returns home to find that his remaining family have contracted leprosy. When they are healed after seeing Christ crucified they return home once again.
2. Planet of the Apes
This is the one that started it all. After being in suspended animation for what feels like 18 months but is in reality more like 2000 years, four astronauts crash land in a lake on an unknown planet. While they have no idea where they’re at the shock of seeing apes, orangutans, and chimpanzees controlling the scene is something of a shock since back in their world such things just didn’t happen. The trick however is discovered at the end of the film when the Statue of Liberty is discovered, and it’s revealed that Taylor and his fellow astronauts have been on earth the whole time, but an earth that has only started to recover after a devastating nuclear war.
1. The Ten Commandments
This story has been told more than once and in more than one way as history has shown. In this rendering however it gets pretty detailed and takes on a great many aspects of the story of Moses and shows the history of Exodus in a way that is known to many and is believed to be the way things happened. How much of Hollywood’s tampering has really altered our way of thinking about this story is unknown, but one thing that people can rely upon is that during this movie Heston was at his best as he portrayed the character of Moses in a way that few others have managed to do since. He was a man that knew how to fill out a role and how to get the people on his side in a way that was utterly impressive and yet forceful enough that you simply didn’t want to look away.
Heston passed in 2008 but had retired by 2003. The legacy he left behind is one that many people will remember for some time to come no doubt.