Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Top 5 Underrated Charlton Heston Movies ""

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Top 5 Underrated Charlton Heston Movies

This is my really my first time participating in a blogathon event, though I've always thought they were pretty cool. This particular one is put on by:
• Michael Nazarewycz, known as the much more easily pronounced @ScribeHard on Twitter, on his blog:
• Jill Blake, known on your Twitter feed as @biscuitkitten, on her site:

This post ties into their "TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon" which I am honored to be a part of. See here for more info on the blogathon:

I think my adoration for Charlton Heston goes back to the first time I saw THE OMEGA MAN on VHS way back when. I feel like I had seen Heston on SNL once or twice I think, wherein he was kind of aping(pun intended) his own larger-than-life hammy acting style. Or maybe I'm just thinking of Phil Hartman doing him. Regardless, I was kind of blown away by that very thing he does ends up doing in THE OMEGA MAN, where he seems to be almost parodying himself. THE OMEGA MAN immediately became a favorite for me, and it began it's run as a perennial "employee pick" for me whenever I was working a video store job. Just a silly, fun film that I adore to this day. So from there, I started to go back and watch more of Heston in other films. He's just a damned entertaining fella to watch. I loved him in things like TOUCH OF EVIL, EARTHQUAKE, THE BIG COUNTRY and many more, but I started to come across some lesser known entries in his filmography and they really fascinated me. So, being as today is his day on TCM, I thought I'd assemble a short list of some of my favorites that I feel don't get enough love as far as Heston movies go....

PONY EXPRESS(1953; Jerry Hopper)
The Hest-man  plays Buffalo Bill Cody and Forrest Tucker his partner in crime Wild Bill Hickok. This is one of my favorite hammy Heston performances maybe ever. He's just so darned cocksure of himself here that you can't help but crack a smile most of the time he's on screen. Especially when he's chattin' up the ladies(Rhonda Fleming and Jan Sterling). Classic Heston in rare form and in one of far too few westerns he did in his career.
Check out this old TBS Superstation promo for a 1988 airing of PONY EXPRESS:

SECRET OF THE INCAS(1954; Jerry Hopper)
Heston as Indiana Jones? Kind of, but with much less action. I have read though that this film was indeed an influence on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and you can certainly see that. By way of example, this clip of the film with RAIDERS music laid under it is pretty fun:

Heston's character here, Harry Steele(great name) is far sleazier and more of a hustler than our old pal Indiana, but that's no problem for me as I like him as this kind of dude. You've also got Robert Young, Glenda Farrell and Thomas Mitchell here as well. Oh, and Yma Sumac on the soundtrack and in the movie as well!
This one's not on DVD in the states, but can be viewed via Amazon Instant should you so desire:

THE MOTHER LODE(1982; Charlton Heston)
Heston directs himself here and teaches us a valuable lesson: Don't Mess With His Gold! I've heard it said that this is basically a Heston slasher film and I kind of agree. It's certainly the closes thing he ever did to one. He plays this kind of half-crazed, grizzled mountain man pretty well for sure. This film also features Nick Mancuso, who is awesome in TICKET TO HEAVEN if you've not seen that, and a very young and lovely Kim Basinger.

THE NAKED JUNGLE(1954; Byron Haskin)
Heston vs. ants! Here, he runs a South American cocoa plantation that comes under attack by 2-mile wide and 20-mile long colony of army ants. There's some other lovey dovey drama going on in the mix too(with Eleanor Parker and William "Cannon" Conrad), but who gives a crap about that stuff right? It's all about man vs. nature for me. I have expressed my love for the "Animals Attack" genre here before and it is a truly undying passion that I have for these films. This is one of the earlier examples of this that I can think of and I am so pleased about Heston being in it. Two great tastes that taste great together!

RUBY GENTRY(1952; King Vidor)
This may be the best known of the films on my list, in fact TCM is running it as the first film of their Heston Day, but I still believe it needs more attention. I mean, King Vidor did direct it and he's a pretty well known guy among classic film fans, plus it's got Jennifer Jones(as the titular Ruby) and Karl Malden too so maybe you all have seen it already. However, if you haven't you really  owe it to yourself. It's a bigger than life love triangle that is just bursting with fruit flavor. Well, not fruit flavor exactly, but lots of passion and fire. Have a peek at this clip: 


garv said...

I have mixed feelings about Cheston. Sometimes I love his overacting (PLANET OF THE APES). Sometimes it bugs the hell out of me (TOUCH OF EVIL -- a movie I otherwise love). I also consider the NRA an evil organization, so the fact that Cheston was its spokesman is also a strike against him. Still, there are Cheston performances that I love. Some of them can be found in THE THREE MUSKETEERS, THE FOUR MUSKETEERS, WILL PENNY, SOYLENT GREEN, and TREASURE ISLAND.

The Metzinger Sisters said...

Glad to see The Naked Jungle among your picks! Charlton Heston is one of my favorite actors and his presence in a film always elevates the production.

Jill said...

First of all, thanks for participating in the blogathon. Second: thanks for the magnificence that is that photo of Heston.


This is a great list.