Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Paul Newman made his screen debut in the gloriously nonsensical costume epic The Silver Chalice. Freely adapted from a novel by Thomas B. Costain, the film casts Newman as Basil, a first century Greek sculptor who is sold into slavery by his wicked uncle. Transported to Rome, Basil manages to enjoy a measure of freedom when his captors discover his sculpting talents; he also marries another slave, the demure Deborra (Pier Angeli) and dallies with the sensuous Helena (Virginia Mayo), the mercenary partner of court magician Simon (Jack Palance). The plot congeals when Basil is commissioned to create a silver receptacle for the chalice from which Jesus Christ drank at the Last Supper. Lorne Greene, likewise making his screen bow, is all portentous speeches and prophetic observations as the apostle Peter. Of the many silly highlights, the silliest -- and most memorable -- occurs when the unhinged Simon is possessed with the notion that he can fly with the gods (Palance's performance in this episode must be seen to be believed). When The Silver Chalice was first released, poor Paul Newman was roundly panned as a third-rate Brando; one reviewer noted that he "delivers his lines with the emotional fervor of a Putnam Division conductor announcing local stops." No one has been more vocal in the drubbing of Newman's performance than Newman himself. When the film was first aired on TV in Los Angeles in 1961, the actor took out a full-page apology in the trade papers. In recent years, however, Paul Newman has pointed to The Silver Chalice with pride, observing that he was able to overcome a bad beginning and endure as a screen favorite for over four decades.
artifact, capture, emperor, escape, extramarital-affair, inheritance, magic, marriage, rebel, relative, religion, sculpture, slavery