Louis B. Mayer, then VP of the Metro-Goldwyn Studio riding PM's chariot

Louis B. Mayer, then VP of the Metro-Goldwyn Studio riding PM's chariot

Ben Hur-silent movie poster 1926

Ben Hur-silent movie poster 1926

Filming scene of movie

Filming scene of movie

Ben Hur

Ben Hur

Ben Hur

Ben Hur

Original book cover

Original book cover

Roman friezes

Roman friezes

Roman friezes

Roman friezes

Example Frame

Ben Hur Chariot

Architect/Builder: Peter Mansbendel
Year: 1926
Style: Roman
Areas of Significance: Art
City: Austin

According to a 1926 article in the Dallas Morning news “When the Shriners went to Los Angeles (In 1924 or 1925), Peter Mansbendel was selected to make a Ben Hur chariot (The ”Ben Hur movie was in production) which he decorated in gold leaf and carved in fitting but severe design. It so pleased Fred Niblo, the movie director and Louis Mayer the film producer that they asked to be allowed to drive it in the huge parade. (Presumably the Rose Parade in Pasadena) Other producers then at work on the picture of “Ben-Hur” (silent movie) also expressed appreciation of the masterly way in which the chariot was carved and decorated. It is believed MGM purchased it and utilized in the production or marketing of the film. Ben Hur was a blockbuster hit for newly merged Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This was the second film based on the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace.

Ben-Hur was also a big success as a novel, and also as a stage play. Stage productions had  been running for twenty-five years. In 1922, two years after the play's last tour, the Goldwyn company purchased the film rights to Ben-Hur. The play's producer, Abraham Erlanger, put a heavy price on the screen rights. Erlanger was persuaded to accept a generous profit participation deal and total approval over every detail of the production. Shooting began in Italy in 1923, starting two years of difficulties, accidents, and eventually a move back to Hollywood. Additional recastings (including Ramón Novarro as Ben-Hur) and a change of director caused the production's budget to skyrocket. The studio's publicity department was shameless,advertising the film with lines like: "The Picture Every Christian ought to See!" Although audiences flocked to Ben-Hur after its premiere in 1925 and the picture grossed $9 million, its huge expenses and the deal with Erlanger made it a loser for MGM as they were unable to recoup its $4-6 million investment. Ben-Hur was the most expensive silent film ever made.
Contact Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy  | © 2012 Texas Woodcarver. All rights reserved. | PO Box 270120 | Flower Mound, TX 75027-0120 | Ph 972.874.3677