The Robe, 1953

Richard Burton played Marcellus Gallio, the Roman tribune whose job it was to crucify Jesus Christ. Victor Mature played Demetrius the Greek who gave Marcellus the robe of Jesus, the Robe which changed Marcellus’ life. I liked the fact that Marcellus wasn’t in this movie to be a hero. He did whatever he thought was right, whether he was acting as a Christian or as a Roman. Real heroes don’t try to be heroes. Like Marcellus, they just do what’s right.

Jean Simmons played Diana, the childhood friend of Marcellus. Her character was basically there for those who watch movies to enjoy a good love story. Diana could’ve been taken out, and it still would’ve been a good story simply because it wasn’t about her. It was about Jesus and the effect he had on Demetrius the slave and on Marcellus the tribune.

Michael Ansara played Judas. He had few lines, but noticeable sound effects. “My name is Judas.” (Lightning crash) It was great. I had to laugh out loud because in 1953, people probably jumped in their seat at the special effects and got chill bumps from the dramatic music. Mr. Ansara was in several Biblical movies. He was in Queen Esther in 1948, The Robe in 1953, The Ten Commandments in 1956, and The Greatest Story Ever Told in 1965.

A little known fact about Cameron Mitchell is found on . He was the voice of Jesus in The Robe. Like Ansara, Mitchell’s lines were few, but quite effective.

Another little known fact found on is that a ten-year-old boy named David was played by Harry Shearer, who has been seen on Saturday Night Live and heard on The Simpsons.

The Robe was a big movie on the big screen. It was the first movie to be released in CinemaScope. In the 1950s during the time people first wore special 3D glasses in theaters, The Robe was advertised as “the modern miracle you see without glasses!”

The Cross

The cross of Jesus is one of the biggest topics anyone could cover in a discussion about love. If we look at it with an earthly mindset, the cross doesn’t seem to be about love at all. However, to a Christian, the cross represents the kind of love that is eternal. It represents the biggest love of all time.

On Friday, I’ll review The Robe, a movie from 1953, starring Richard Burton. In that movie, Burton’s character, Marcellus, is one of the people who crucifies Jesus. Marcellus, who is known by the Emperor and is known by the man who will be the next emperor, is influenced more by the powerful presence of Jesus than by any other man. One of the scenes in The Robe is taken from John 19:23-24:
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it."
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.

Today on my devotional blog, I’m shining a spotlight on the cross. Because it’s used as a symbol of Christianity, we see it all over the world. Many look at it and feel great emotion, whether it’s love or hate.

So join me at Seek God With Me for a look at the cross.

Ben-Hur, 1959

Ben-Hur was originally a novel by Lew Wallace. This film followed much of what was in the book, which was a look at the life of Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy Jew who, when thrown into slavery in the galley of a ship for a crime he didn’t commit, vowed revenge. The fictional Judah Ben-Hur crossed the path of Jesus a few times, as well as other famous people of that day. In that sense, he had an almost Forrest Gump-ish life. The scenes with Jesus were carefully played, believable, and important. The movie began at the birth of Jesus with the wise men worshipping, and it stopped at the crucifixion of Jesus, not as an ending, but as a victory.

This powerful film showed passionate love and passionate hate. It showed what revenge looks like on the face of a friend. It showed his loyalty to people he’d known all his life and a bonding with people he’d just met.

The scene with the crowd going up the hillside to hear Jesus preach gave us an opportunity to imagine ourselves in that crowd. Would we follow and listen or turn and be about our business?

The most famous scene in Ben-Hur is the chariot race. The set was enormous and included a few hidden cameras. MGM spent $15 million on the film, and they were glad they did because the film earned $75 million. The chariot race alone had 15,000 extras during the five weeks they filmed it. There were many rumors about stunt men dying a violent death under the hooves of horses. However, I saw the interviews in the special features which verified that the rumors were false. When you look at the “trampling deaths” in the race, you can tell that the body was a dummy (that is, wasn’t alive to begin with).

Directed by William Wyler, this film boasted that it had the biggest cast, the biggest crew, and was the biggest film of its time. It was also a big winner during the Academy Awards where it won 11 Oscars. Four of the winning categories were: Best Picture, Best Actor (won by Charlton Heston), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (won by Hugh Griffith), and Best Director (won by William Wyler). Other Ben-Hur Oscars include: Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Color; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Effects, Special Effects; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Scoring of a dramatic or Comedy Picture; and Best Sound.

With a length of 214 minutes, I was surprised at how well the movie kept my attention throughout, except when I fast-forwarded through the overture and intermission music. The music was gorgeous, but I was more interested in checking out the plot and the superb acting.

Feeding the Five Thousand

As I take a look at big things this month, I can’t help thinking of the time Jesus fed the 5,000 followers with only five loaves and two fish. That seems like an overwhelming task. I can imagine the sharper followers noticing that Jesus and his disciples had come to that remote area in a boat, and they hadn’t brought that much food with them. Where had the food come from? It had to be a miracle.

I think of contemporary miracles and how we take things for granted today. Have we become oblivious to the signs of God’s love? There are many overlooked clues that would lead us to God if we’d only notice them.

I think also of the 1959 blockbuster movie Ben-Hur. This story tells how a man can walk in God’s favor and protection and not even recognize it until he looks back at the overwhelming evidence that has piled up through the years. I’ll post that movie review on Friday.

But today, you can join me on Seek God With Me where I’m taking a look at the compassion of Jesus as he miraculously fed the 5,000.

CJ Darlington’s Thicker than Blood

I was impressed with CJ Darlington’s debut novel, Thicker than Blood, because the story kept me reading until all of the conflicts resolved. There were some things that I thought would certainly happen and they didn’t. But the story had a satisfying ending with room for my imagination to take my guess into the unwritten chapters after the end. Will there be a sequel? I don't know. I hope so!

The scenes which included facts about the antique books were quite interesting. Many authors choose to write on subjects they already know something about. Darlington did a great job with those antiquarian bookseller details.

I was among the crowd of Brandilyn Collins’ blog followers (June 2005) who read on her Forensics & Faith blog the public critique of CJ’s bold offering, a portion of this book. Since then, many have awaited the release of this novel. It was well worth the wait.

This novel is about big issues. I won't list everything that struck me as important because it would give away too much. But I will mention that God was seen in this book as a God of love who can handle all our desperate times.

It's about sisters. I think the conflict between the sisters drew me in emotionally because I have always enjoyed a great relationship with my sister. As I read the story, my heart was pulling for their reunion.

I hope this book proves to be a ginormous success. It's a well-drawn story with big issues, but written with such intimacy that the characters feel real.

From the back cover:
CJ Darlington is the winner of the 2008 Jerry B Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest for Thicker than Blood, which she began writing as a 15-year old homeschool student. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over a decade, scouting for stores before cofounding her own online bookstore. She also cofounded the Christian entertainment web site Visit her web site at

Noah's Ark

Today at Seek God With Me, I’m taking a look at Noah’s Ark.

Friday, here on Blogging Domino, I’ll be reviewing a novel that has two horses in it.

Seek God With Me is my devotional blog where I take one Bible verse and give encouragement for our journey. I hope you’ll join me there.

The Ten Commandments, 1956

The story of Moses from his escape to the Nile as a baby in a basket to the end of his career as the leader of the Israelites was a big project to film. The conflict between Charlton Heston as the hero Moses and Yul Brynner as his nemesis Rameses was played out well. The conniving Nefretiri, played by Anne Baxter, was constantly between them. I was impressed by Edward G Robinson’s efforts as Dathan. I also enjoyed Vincent Price as Baka and Debra Paget as Lilia.

Cecil B DeMille’s blockbuster took years to plan and film and only 220 minutes to view. Charlton Heston showed off his versatility in playing Moses the son of Pharoah’s daughter and Moses the son of slaves and Moses the messenger of God. It was the same character, but in vastly different mindsets. The transformation of his character showed how God can use anyone who is willing to obey Him. Moses showed many heroic qualities throughout the movie.

Heston persuaded DeMille to use his voice as the voice of God in the burning bush. DeMille took advantage of the fact that Heston’s son was born while the movie was being filmed and cast Heston’s son as baby Moses who was rescued from the Nile by Pharoah’s daughter.

Edith Head was one of the many people working on this film in the Costume and Wardrobe Department. One of my favorite movie costume designers, Edith Head won 8 of the 35 Academy Awards she was nominated for during her career. Working with her was Dorothy Jeakins, a costume designer who won 3 of the 12 Academy Awards she was nominated for during her career. The costumes they created for this movie were outstanding. They were nominated for an Oscar for this film, but lost to The King and I, which also starred Yul Brynner.

The Red Sea

I recently viewed the Cecil B DeMille blockbuster movie The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston. I saw a love story, an adventure, and heroic characters standing up for what was right. I saw what was outstanding, state-of-the-art special effects in that movie, for a 1950s film. Don’t get caught in the trap of comparing those special effects by today’s standards. That was a top of the line movie in 1956. Today, of course, it would certainly look different – and be offered in 3D.

No matter how our technology advances and improves what we see on the big screen, they’ll never be able capture what actually happened. The Red Sea really did split into two walls of water. The Israelites really did walk across the sea on dry ground.

Join me at Seek God With Me for more on the miracles of God.