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February 17, 2009

Paul Newman's embarrassing Bible epic

Bible movies were all the rage in the 1950s, so it isn't all that odd that an up-and-coming actor like Paul Newman, making his big-screen debut in 1954, would have ended up in a quasi-biblical flick called The Silver Chalice.

Alas, the movie itself was apparently nothing to brag about -- some years later, Harry and Michael Medved awarded Newman a 'Golden Turkey Award' for 'Most Embarrassing Movie Debut' -- and Newman himself hated, hated, hated the movie so much that he took out a full-page newspaper ad to apologize for his performance when it was shown on TV in 1966.

So we can only imagine how Newman, who passed away last year, would react to the fact that the film is being released on DVD today as part of the "Paul Newman Film Series", along with The Helen Morgan Story (1957), The Outrage (1964; this film is a Western remake of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon), Rachel, Rachel (1968; this film was Newman's directorial debut), and the disaster flick When Time Ran Out... (1980).

I have never gotten around to seeing the film myself, but I am curious to. In the meantime, Dave Kehr notes some of the film's more peculiar details in the New York Times, and Bible-movie blogger extraordinaire Matt Page gives the film a more balanced review than you might expect at his Bible Films Blog.

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