Oscar Impact: Ben-Hur

The three most commercial Oscar-wining films of the 1950s were:

1. The globe-trotting adventure, “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956) with $23 million in domestic grosses.

David Lean's first epic war spectacle, “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957), with $17 million.

3. William Wyler's historical saga, “Ben-Hur” (1959), which swept most of the Oscars, with $36 million.

Each of these movies was a blockbuster prior to the Oscar nominations, but became even more of a bonanza (“movie event” or “tentpole picture” in today's jargon) after winning the Best Picture Oscar.