Tonight I watched THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY (1965) with Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison. I've had this movie on my 'to watch list' on Netflix for about three months and didn't even know if I had the interest to finish it once I started. I vaguely remember seeing this movie many years ago, and only remembered a continuous argument between a pope and a painter. I didn't recall anything else about it, but wanted to revisit it in my adulthood, as someone with more of an attention span and interest for such arguments.
I was really fascinated at how great this movie really is. To me, this is Charlton Heston's greatest piece of acting. I realize that Charlton work is shadowed by his role as Moses in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and as Judah Ben Hur in BEN HUR, but dog-gone it, his Michelangelo is his masterpiece. I've always enjoyed movies with Chuck, from Moses to the Omega Man, but I always thought of his acting as a little stiff ~ a little lofty. I'll admit it's been my misperception all along, because the man had a face that could've been chiseled and smoothed by Michelangelo himself. Maybe I placed him in my mind as more the big movie star rather than that of a great actor. Now that I've seen The Agony and the Ecstasy as an adult, I have completely changed my view of him. This man was a great actor!
Heston wasn't stiff, or lofty, no striding in this film. Chuck's Michelangelo seemed more like a blue collar worker who was passionate about his craft, demanded pay for his work, and didn't mind giving his employer a piece of his mind if he felt the quality of his work was compromised...even if his employer was The Pope.
Kudos also to Rex Harrison who played Pope Julius II. Harrison has played many memorable characters throughout his career, but this Pope peering up to Michelangelo peering down from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were incredible film moments. Iron sharpens iron, and these two great actors delivered brilliant sparks flashing against each other throughout this film. They were just wonderful together.
Now that I've revisited and enjoyed the ecstasy of The Agony and the Ecstasy, I am going to have to revisit another one of Irving Stone's book to movie LUST FOR LIFE that starred Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh. I remember it being a great movie. I must watch it again after having not seen it in over thirty years. I'll get back to you.