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Alpha Male, Omega Man

Posted on | April 6, 2008 | No Comments

Chuck is dead. Chuck was a demi-god. A seer, a force and a prophet.

This is a proposal for a broadcast doco for AMC or TCM on Chuck that never quite made it to production. I post it today in memoriam of The Chuck.

CHARLTON HESTON: ALPHA MALE, OMEGA MAN
© JP Sottile 10.11.2002

From 1941 to 1968 Charlton Heston played some of history’s greatest figures in a series of wildly successful epics. Moses, El Cid, Michelangelo, Marc Antony, Ben-Hur, John the Baptist, FDR, Andrew Jackson…none were too big for Heston’s broad shoulders. He also starred as Miguel Vargas in the noir classic “A Touch of Evil.” By 1968, Heston was at the top of “Hollywood’s A-List.”

Then he took on the role of a bewildered astronaut marooned on a bizarre planet where men and apes were transposed in the natural order. This was out of character, to say the least.

Heston then went on to make three more all-time science fiction classics, films that elevated science fiction beyond b-movies and established a standard for the action heroes of the 80s, 90s and beyond. In THE OMEGA MAN, Charlton Heston did “Road Warrior” before Gibson and “Terminator” before Schwarzenegger. In SOYLENT GREEN, Heston went from the most inspiring stories in history to a bleak, distopian depiction of the future.

“The Planet of the Apes” films took us to a future where man pays for his transgressions by sliding down the evolutionary ladder.

“The Omega Man” is a politically charged look at a post-biological war-torn Los Angeles that serves as an allegory for Vietnam Era America.

“Soylent Green” frightened audiences with the prospect of an overpopulated world where death feeds life. Edward G. Robinson co-starred, giving an emotive performance that matched Heston’s intensity.

During this five-year period Heston expanded his unique role as Hollywood’s interpreter of history, taking a big risk in a genre usually reserved for b-list talent. The subject matter was dark and controversial, setting the stage for a new generation of Sci-Fi and action stars.

He became Hollywood’s Alpha Male and Omega Man.

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