Odd to think, a half century after his heyday, that I find myself nostalgic in a way for Heston’s softer edges, for (of all things) his subtlety and humanity. For when I think of his successors I think of wayward progeny run amok. He was replaced as Hollywood’s physical Ubermensch in the 1980s by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the incarnation is hypertrophied, grotesque, a Germanic rather than an American ideal. A beast lacking all sensitivity, Arnold is not (as Heston was) an underdog rising to the occasion. He is an overdog, looking to swat insects. As such, Schwarzenegger represents an unfortunate sea change in American culture. Once we were looking to “make the world safe for democracy,” battling long-established, powerful empires in order to do so. Now we “take the fight to the enemy” pre-emptively in order to “protect our interests”, invariably against adversaries far weaker and poorer than we are. This is reflected in our movies, where the supposed hero is usually some kind of robot monster who simply mows down those who get in his way and feels nothing about it.