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The Silver Chalice

3.7 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Paul Newman - in his screen debut - plays a 1st century Greek sculptor who is sold into slavery. He escapes harm when his talent is discovered and he is commissioned to create a replica of the chalice Jesus drank from at the Last Supper.

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Different movies are legendary for different reasons, and The Silver Chalice has its special place in film history: it's the picture Paul Newman tried to laugh off throughout his career. In his film debut, Newman plays a young artist raised in comfort but then bonded into slavery in the Roman Empire, where he gets a shot at creating a chalice for a sacred cup used by Jesus (crucified 20 years earlier). The strange cast includes Virginia Mayo as an exotic vixen, Pier Angeli as Newman's sweet, sincere Christian adorer, Joseph Wiseman as an anti-Christian plotter, and best of all Jack Palance, as a magician called upon to become the new Jesus. (For a climactic scene Palance dresses in a caped, skintight red costume, looking for all the world like the Riddler in a different color palate.) If this doesn't begin to convey the film's craziness, consider that the great art director Boris Leven opted for sets that are mostly stylized in the stark, spare manner of a 1950s Roadrunner-Coyote cartoon, a wild design that makes the movie look more like a stage opera than a lived-in film. Newman has a deer-in-the-headlights expression that suggests he knows he's made a terrible mistake, but there's nothing to do but say the dialogue anyway. In the 1960s, Newman took out newspaper ads urging people not to watch The Silver Chalice when it was broadcast on TV, and the film was something of a punch line for him thereafter. Little did he suspect how entertaining the film is for "bad movie night," or that it inspires hope for anybody whose career begins in a less-than-stellar way. --Robert Horton

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Newman, Virginia Mayo, Pier Angeli, Jack Palance, Walter Hampden
  • Directors: Victor Saville
  • Writers: Lesser Samuels, Thomas B. Costain
  • Producers: Victor Saville, Lesser Samuels
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 142 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001KO1BC6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,784 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Silver Chalice" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This is the movie which became notorious due to an advertisement Paul Newman took out in an L.A. newspaper in the '60's in which he apologized for it before its U.S. TV premiere.(Other castmembers were apparently not so thrilled with this gesture!) From a modern perspective the movie can be seen as one of the most visually interesting wide-screen films from this early era of the "giant screen epics" with generally good performances and a truly magnificent score by Franz Waxman ( a genuis who also scored REBECCA,A PLACE IN THE SUN, SUNSET BLVD.,PEYTON PLACE,SAYONARA,TARAS BULBA etc.). An archeological find in Antioch (one of the crossroads of the ancient world and the home of the church which the Apostle Paul attended) of a beautifully sculptured silver chalice with Christ and the apostles on it led author Thomas B. Costain to write an "historical fiction" which became a best-seller in the early '50's. Like Lloyd C. Douglas' THE ROBE and General Lew Wallace's BEN-HUR the novel mixed real characters and events from the era of the early Christian church with fictitious ones in order to bring the period to life and display the impact of the gospel on the common man. The huge success of Fox's THE ROBE (1953) the first CinemaScope film(itself inspired by the successes of QHO VADIS?(1951) and DAVID AND BATHSHEBA(1952)) led other studios like Warners to produce lavish historical epics in the hopes of re-winning movie audiences recently lost to TV. The representation of scriptural teachings and events may not always have been accurate in the Biblical epics (notable exceptions being Wyler's BEN-HUR and Huston's THE BIBLE(1966)) but in the main they were tremendously entertaining and not without a modicom of genuine spiritual edification and inspiration.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
This faux-Biblical epic marked Paul Newman's screen debut in the role of Basil, defender of the Holy Grail. His performance is, well, just imagine dropping Paul Newman in the middle of a Fifties religious spectacle, and that's pretty much what you get. You have evil wizards and hooch dancers for villains, solemn patriarchs and saintly good girls as heroes, and a silly plot made sillier by the pious hokum.
But all the stars are upstaged by the curious set designs. Imagine ancient Palestine as an igloo camp designed by Buckminster Fuller. Peculiar, science fiction domes are everywhere, and with the several scenes from the rooftops, including an interessting sword-fight, the scenery is quite distracting.
This film would be enjoyed by those who are in the right state of mind.
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In my life, I thought that the worst acted movie was "the 10 Commandments" everyone was so over the top and even to a certain extent "Gone With the Wind" but that was so much fun. Well, we have a new winner in the worst acted movie award! I can't believe how all the actors (except jack palance) just phoned in the roles. What were they thinking and these were some of the finest Hollywood had to offer. Paul Newman, Virginia mayo and literally a cast of hundreds. Such a shame, more amazing that any of them had careers after this debacle. the sets were....odd and bland and I guess that is how it was intended but I found it distracting. This movie was on for 2 hours and 14 minutes, I made it for 1 hour and 15 minutes before my self preservation instincts kicked in. What I can say about this is that Paul Newman looked like the incredibly handsome man he always was.
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Format: DVD
Based on a best-seller by Thomas B. Costain, and directed by Victor Saville, "The Silver Chalice" was one of the studio's early CinemaScope films, and was really a variation on Fox's "The Robe," the first CinemaScope movie that had been a huge success in 1953... The action follows a group of Christians who are dedicated to preserving Christ's Holy Cup twenty years after the Last Supper...

Since Newman had the lead as a young Greek silversmith, sold into slavery, then chosen by the Christians to design a chalice for the Cup, becomes involved in battles and orgies, and must decide between the pagan world represented by a courtesan (Virginia Mayo) and the Christian world represented by his young, innocent wife (Pier Angeli). There is also a mad pagan magician (Jack Palance), who wants to destroy the chalice and establish his own religion, replacing Christ's miracles with black magic...

Newman was ideally cast as a Greek, because of his classic features, but he makes his film debut at particularly unfortunate time... 1954 was the year of "The Wild One" and "On the Waterfront," and Brando was at the height of his popularity...
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Format: VHS Tape
Reviewers are right on.. that the sets are one of the most interesting aspects of this film. However there seem to be some misconceptions about the story. "Basil" (Paul Newman) did not design the cup used at the last supper, but designed a silver chalice to hold the cup, and the plot involves him traveling around as he carves likenesses of the apostles, for a decoration on the silver cup "holder". Palance hams it up as Simon Magnus, a character from the New Testament, who tried to "buy" the religious "powers" of the apostles, giving the name "simony" to related sins. The look of the movie is like watching a play with sets, rather than a realistic movie, but the abstraction of the sets is one of the movie's most interesting aspects, along with the strangely facinating over-the-top performance of Palance.
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