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Film Society of Lincoln Center Presents Cinematic Atlas: The Triumphs of Charlton Heston
From Left: Orson Welles as Police Captain Hank Quinlan and Charlton Heston as Ramon Miguel 'Mike' Vargas in Touch of Evil. Directed by Orson Welles, USA, 1958; 112m. Photo Credit: UNIVERSAL / THE KOBAL COLLECTION / Film Society of Lincoln Center

NEW YORK.- The Film Society of Lincoln Center revisits eleven remarkable performances by one of American cinema’s most successful leading men in Cinematic Atlas: The Triumphs of Charlton Heston, at the Walter Reade Theater, Aug. 29 – Sept. 4. The series brings some of Hollywood’s grandest spectacles back to the big-screen with new and archival prints of “Ben-Hur,” “The Greatest Show on Earth,” “El Cid,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Earthquake” and more. It also celebrates the actor’s memorable collaborations with some of the cinema’s finest directors.

The series opened on Friday, Aug. 29, with two screenings of Orson Welles’s classic film noir “Touch of Evil,” starring Heston as Mexican narcotics agent Mike Vargas. The film is just the first in the series that highlights Heston’s range as a character and genre actor. The lifelong inspiration he found in the outdoors shines through his solitary war and western heroes in “Major Dundee”—screening in its restored and extended version—and “Will Penny,” while he made some of his most dynamic onscreen appearances as futuristic, sci-fi enforcers in “Soylent Green” and as Robert Neville in “The Omega Man,” a role taken over by Will Smith in last year’s “I Am Legend.”

“[Heston] commanded virtually every scene in which he appeared,” says the Film Society’s Josh Strauss, who programmed the series, “developing a dignity, grace, strength, charisma, courage, cinematic power and ironic lightness that he accented with his unforgettable style of delivery.”

Heston made his first major appearance as an actor on Broadway in 1947’s “Antony and Cleopatra.” The performance was just the first classical role in a career filled with heroic parts, including Moses in “The Ten Commandments,” the title Spanish folk hero in Anthony Mann’s “El Cid” (1961), and Heston’s Oscar-winning turn as a gladiator in William Wyler’s epic favorite “Ben-Hur” (1959).

“With his perfect, lean-hipped, powerful body, Heston is a god-like hero; built for strength,” wrote New Yorker critic Pauline Kael in her review of “Planet of the Apes” (1968). “He is an archetype of what makes Americans win. He represents American power—and he has the profile of an eagle."

Later in life Heston was as much remembered for his political engagement as his commanding onscreen presence. He was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1965 to ’71 and helped create the American Film Institute, serving as its first chairman and president. He actively championed both the National Endowment for the Arts and the civil rights movement, participating in Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 march in Washington D.C. From 1998 to 2003, he served as president of the National Rifle Association.

Born John Charles Carter in Evanston, Ill., in 1923, Heston attended Northwestern University, where he met and married Lydia Clarke. The couple stayed together 64 years, with two children, Fraser and Holly. Heston served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. In August 2002, Heston publicly announced he was diagnosed with symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease. He died April 5, 2008.

Single screening tickets for the series are $11; $7 for Film Society members, students and children (6-12, accompanied by an adult); and $8 for seniors (62+). They are available at both the Walter Reade Theater box office and online at A series pass admitting one person to a total of five titles in the series can be purchased at the Walter Reade Theater box office (cash only) for $40; $30 for Film Society members.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, to recognize and support new directors, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility and understanding of film. Advancing this mandate today, the Film Society hosts two distinguished festivals. The New York Film Festival annually premieres films from around the world and has introduced the likes of François Truffaut, R.W. Fassbinder, Jean-Luc Godard, Pedro Almodóvar, Martin Scorsese, and Wong Kar-Wai to the United States. New Directors/New Films, co-presented by the Museum of Modern Art, focuses on emerging film talents. Since 1972, when the Film Society honored Charles Chaplin in person, the annual Gala Tribute celebrates an actor or filmmaker who has helped distinguish cinema as an art form. Additionally, the Film Society presents a year-round calendar of programming at its Walter Reade Theater and offers insightful film writing to a worldwide audience through Film Comment magazine.

Today's News

August 31, 2008

Film Society of Lincoln Center Presents Cinematic Atlas: The Triumphs of Charlton Heston

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