THE PLOT THUS FAR
A Greek artisan is commissioned to cast the cup of Christ in silver and sculpt around its rim the faces of the disciples and Jesus himself. He travels to Jerusalem and eventually to Rome to complete the task. Meanwhile, a nefarious interloper is trying to convince the crowds that he is the new Messiah by using nothing more than cheap parlor tricks.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Technically The Silver Chalice isn’t a bible film at all. It doesn’t even contain enough incident from the New Testament to class as a Jesus Cameo film such as Ben Hur or The Robe. It was, however, clearly inspired by (perhaps the financial success of) that latter film. Both productions are sword and sandal epics based on successful novels about a young man becoming a Christian as a result of his pursuit of an early Christian relic. In this case, rather than the robe of Jesus, it is the cup from the Last Supper, and rather than trying to destroy the relic, Basil (Newman) is actually trying to protect it.
The film was widely panned on its release, and continues to be ridiculed today. Yet I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d been led to believe. Perhaps my expectations had been lowered so greatly that nothing could have been so bad. Perhaps I just find any film in this genre hard to hate. Perhaps I’ve just seen a lot of films that make it look like a masterpiece. It is undoubtedly poor, but, that said, I can think of a glut of films that I would be keen to avoid ahead of this one.
Aside from the usual Roman-Christian-film plot of pagan-finds-faith falling for beautiful-Christian-girl, the film also features a couple of notable sub-plots. Basil’s travels are supposedly driven by his quest to find the third witness to his adoption (after the other two attempt to disinherit him), but the story fizzles out as the film progresses. Likewise, when Basil is reunited with his childhood sweetheart Helena (Virginia Mayo) a love-triangle plot begins to emerge, but again, it’s never really followed through.
The DVD sports no special features. But, you get Newman’s debut film on DVD with amazing A/V Quality. Plus, the mono track is the cleaniest I’ve ever heard it. Hell, I’ve seen a film print of “The Silver Chalice” that didn’t look this amazing. That’s quality right there. That’s why it belongs in your collection.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!