The face of Easter in Costa Rica.
The face of Easter in Costa Rica.

QCOSTARICA – While many of the Devout trek to Cartago on foot, others spend their Easter Week vegging out in front of the TV set. They will get their dose of religion through watching 1950’s period piece films dredged up each year on local or cable channels. It is probably not as good for one’s spiritual well-being nor physical fitness.

But it is probably the only chance you will get to watch ace director Cecil B. DeMille part the Red Sea so Charlton Heston (as Moses) doesn’t get his sandals wet. We are also promised “Ben Hur” for the 80th time this year on a local channel. It will be a chance to cheer on Heston in the chariot race again — Hint: he wins.

We will likely get to see Richard Burton in “The Robe.” You may also get to see the spinoff of that movie, “Demetrius and the Gladiators.” In that one, the craggy-featured wooden puppet actor Victor Mature gives probably his best film performance — some might say, his only performance.

But sometimes one wonders if those who dig into the archives actually watch the movies beforehand or have some other religious agenda. “Cleopatra” is often chosen, although it is mainly about the Roman colony of Egypt. (Nothing like ancient Roman politics to spice things up.) It was set some years before Christ was born.

The same might be said of “Anthony and Cleopatra,” (We wonder why Hollywood directors give short shrift to ancient sea battles. In both ‘Ben Hur” and “Anthony and Cleopatra” we have a chance to see terrific battles and the director seems to be saying, “We’ll ram a couple of galleys and then cut to Heston rowing.”)

But if we want something a little more accurate, we’ll have to watch the History Channel — if they can tear themselves away from silly alien extra-terrestrial theories long enough to show some real history…

Note: You may think that this reporter was pretty rough on Victor Mature but he was refreshingly realistic about his performance skills. When he tried to join a particularly snooty country club, they turned him down because he was an actor(!) He replied indignantly, “I’m no actor and I have 64 movies to prove it!”