Yahoo!: When you watch the 1959 “Ben-Hur,” a studio classic so big and stodgy and literal that even the dialogue seems square-jawed, there’s something that tugs you right through the endless talk about high ideals and the birth of Christianity — and no, it’s not just the promise that after three hours, you’re going to get to see the chariot race to end all chariot races. It’s the presence of an actor who’s like an oak tree among twigs. As the title stud-slave, Charlton Heston projects a strength that’s brawny but internal — sturdiness resolved into muscle. Even his soul is clenched. He’s like a Hollywood glamour god sculpted by Michelangelo. You’d think that this sort of gladiatorial hero worship would have gone out of style, but, of course, you’d be wrong. It’s alive and kicking in a movie like “Gladiator,” where Russell Crowe turns vengeance into a brooding art form, or in any of the “Mad Max” films, which are the real heirs to the ancient-world action epic.