Director William Wyler had previous experience with Ben-Hur. He served as an assistant director wrangling extras in crowds under action specialist B. Reeves Eason (aka Breezy Eason), who directed the chariot race in MGM's mammoth silent version of the story, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925).
Stuntman Cliff Lyons worked as a stuntman/chariot driver in both Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) and the remake Ben-Hur (1959).
Nervous at the expense and trying to cover all its bases, MGM executives dissatisfied with the script hired Ben Hecht to "polish" it during shooting. They flew him to Rome, set him up in a house and paid him approximately $15,000 for a week's work. It's not known if any of Hecht's dialogue made it into the final film.
Although the original release was in Technicolor, the 1974 release was in MetroColor.
In 1880 Lew Wallace told his wife that they might receive as much as $100 in royalties per year for his novel, After years of refusing to sell theatrical rights, Wallace finally acquiesced.
Wyler began his career directing one Western per week budgeted at $2000 each, the same amount it cost Metro for every hour spent on shooting "Ben-Hur."
Kirk Douglas and Marlon Brando were considered for the role of Judah Ben-Hur. |