chapter  5
38 Pages

“Lest we forget” wake-up calls

WithBarbara Ryan

This section of chronicling runs from just after Klaw and Erlanger staged Ben-Hur until just before Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released the first feature-length film adaptation. I argue that three children of the 1880s grew up to become fans who issued wake-up calls about Judah Ben-Hur’s militarism in the wake of World War I. To do so, each chose to restore part of Wallace’s plot that Klaw and Erlanger had redacted. Wallace had allowed the redaction. But a literature professor (Carl Van Doren), an advertising executive (Bruce Barton), and a cinema artist (June Mathis) restored the Zealot subplot to re-teach a moral lesson about men who lead to war.