73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 1999
Much better than the earlier Julius Caesar, which starred Marlon Brando as Mark Antony and James Mason as Brutus. In this version, Jason Robards as Brutus is admittedly an embarrassment, but the rest of the cast is quite strong. The delivery of Antony's funeral oration by Charlton Heston is brilliant, powerful, well-paced, the dramatic high point of the movie. Richard Johnson as Cassius, John Gielgud as Caesar, Robert Vaughn as Casca and Diana Rigg as Portia are fine actors, with full dramatic presence, at home in Shakespeare's language. Brief parts, like the soothsayer's and the cobbler's, are memorably played. The screenplay omits two short passages that are important to the plot: (1) Cassius' avowal in the first act, after his attempt to persuade Brutus to oppose Caesar, that if their positions were reversed and he, Cassius, stood as well with Caesar as Brutus does and Brutus made a comparable appeal to him, he would certainly not listen. (2) Immediately after the assassination, a promise by Brutus to Antony's servant of safe conduct for Antony, who thus knows when he comes to the Capitol and weeps over Caesar's body, challenging the conspirators to kill him also, that he is in no danger of their doing so.
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Charlton Heston does an admirable job as Marc Antony in this 1970 version of Shakespeare's play. Certainly you will come away from this film wishing he had performed more Shakespeare on film. However, I must admit a strong preference for Marlon Brando's performance in the same role in the 1953 version of "Julius Caesar," and especially the funeral scene where the performance of the mob is equal to that of the actor in the pulpit. It would have been equally worthwhile to see Brando attempt more of the Bard as well.
I also find that across the board the acting is slightly better in the earlier version. In this color version it is strange to see Jason Robards, Jr., who made his reputation performing the works of Eugene O'Neill on the stage, flounder so badly with Shakespeare, and I have to admit his performance gets in the way of my enjoyment of this film. Of the other actors it is interesting to see John Gielgud take on the title role since he played the lean and hungry Cassius in the earlier version, a joy to see Diana Rigg nail her significant scene as Portia, and a bit disconcerting to see so many actors who would become television stars in the years to come (e.g., Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaugh and Carroll O'Connor).
I also prefer Joseph L. Mankiewicz's direction of the 1953 film to the work of Stuart Burge in this version. Mankiewicz also had the advantage of Academy Award-winning art direction and set decoration, which I really think overcomes the fact the later version is in color. If you are screening the entire film for students or focusing just on Antony's funeral oration, by either standard I really believe you are better served with the earlier film.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2005
One of the curiosities of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" is that the main character is not "Julius Caesar", who is killed early in the play, nor Marc Antony, who has by far the best and most famous speech - "Friends,Romans, countrymen, ...".
The central character is Brutus, the "noblest Roman of them all", who must balance his his duty toward Rome against his loyalty to Caesar. Brutus is a follower of the Stoic philosophy and so tries to achieve virtue by using his reason to choose and follow noble goals, rather than being lead by his emotions. It seems that the director of this movie seeks to convey this idea by having Jason Robards, a highly skilled actor, deliver all Brutus's lines in a bored flat undertone. I wonder how they persuaded him to do it?
"Don't act Jason. Trust us. Just read the lines off slowly
like you never saw them before and you don't care a pin.
It'll be great.!"
To say this completely spoils the movie is an understatement. Mr. Spock has a wider emotional range. They would have done better and saved money by having Brutus played by a flashing blue light and the guy who did the voice of the HAL 9000.
When Brutus is off screen the movie is fine. Heston is surprisingly good. Gielgud is great. It is sort of a pity that the movie is in color because it makes it harder to ignore the poor costumes, the cheap sets, the worst fake beard in the history of cinema. If you want to see a much better film version, there is the classic black and white version in whcih James Mason and Sir John Gielgud make a superb pair as Brutus and Casius, and Marlon Brando gives a chilling Antony.
As for this one, if someone gives it to you as a present, by all means look at it first before you donate it to the public library.
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
What do Moses, Ben-Hur, and Antony have in common? Answer: They all look like Charlton Heston.
If somehow you missed the play or the history, basically Julius Caesar let his status go to his head and is about to take on the role of emperor. It is up to a handful of Noble Romans to see that this does not happen. The play is about these individuals, their individual purposes and what happens to them after the attempt to stop him. The focus is on Caesar's right arm (Mark Antony).
This is a 1970 rendition of Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar" that is well adapted for the screen. Hence the characters are well known contemporaries. You will notice the major players and might miss some of the others such as Preston Lockwood (Trebonius) who played the Judge in "Strong Poison" ASIN: B000062XDY. With many movies the actor out shine the character and totally changes the emphasis of the story. However this version is well done with maybe the exception of Jason Robards (Brutus) who sometimes seems like Jason Robards playing Brutus at other times he is quite exceptional. Diana Rigg (Portia) who looks like a little girl is the only person that sounds like she is speaking in meter. Everyone speaks clearly and pauses long enough for you to think before moving on. Facial expressions are important to the story and they do not look like they are yelling at you (except in speeches).
You will notice that the back ground music is also of 70's vantage and is used to emphasize certain scenes. However the volume is not so high that you can not hear the clear pronunciation of the lines. Also the costumes made with satin are distracting. At one point Antony looks like Carol Burnett when she was wearing a curtain and left the rod in.
As the play proceeds you will be so wrapped up in it that you will not care about the little differences in form and be totally absorbed in the film. There may be better versions and/or more favorite versions but that doe not make this version any less worth having.
Julius Caesar ~ Marlon Brando
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VCI Entertainment presents "Julius Caesar" (1950) (93 min. B/W)...under director, producer & screenwriter David Bradley, producer Owen Davis Sr., author of the play William Shakespeare, cinematographer Louis McMahon, music score by John Becker...the cast includes Charlton Heston (Antony), David Bradley (Brutus), Theodore Cloak (Emil Lepidus), Mary Sefton Darr (Portia), Homer Dietmeier (Artemidorus), Alfred Edyvean (Flavius), George Gilbert (Strato), Grosvenor Glenn (Cassius), Russell Gruebner (Cinna-the poet), Walter Hardy (Cimber), George Hinners (Lucius), Bob Holt (Octavius Caesar), Sam Needham (Pindarus), John O'Leary (Marullus), Cornelius Peeples (Popilius), Frederick Roscoe (Decius), Helen Ross (Calpurnia), Arthur Sus (Cinna), Don Walker (Soothsayer), Jeffrey Hunter (Third Plebian). . . . . . our film Julius Caesar (1950) was a film adaptation of the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar...was produced and directed by David Bradley using actors from the Chicago area...the lead was Charlton Heston, who had known Bradley since his youth, Heston was establishing himself in television and theater in New York, played Mark Antony...Heston was the only paid cast member. Bradley himself played Brutus, and Harold Tasker had the title role...Bradley recruited drama students from his alma mater Northwestern University for bit parts and extras, one of whom was future Hollywood star Jeffrey Hunter...outstanding drama tells of the powerful rise of emperor Julius Caesar along with his swift fall in this adaptation of William Shakespeare's play.
Special footnote, the 16 mm film was shot in 1949 on locations in the Chicago area, including Soldier Field, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Elks National Veterans Memorial, and the Field Museum...the Indiana sand dunes on Lake Michigan were used for the Battle of Philippi...one indoor set was built in the Chicago suburb of Evanston...in order to save money, about eighty percent of the film was shot silently, with the dialogue dubbed in later by the actors...this innovative approach to a Shakespearean classic and one of the two "unofficial" films (the other being Peer Gynt) Heston appeared in before his 1950 "debut" film, Dark City....after its premiere in Evanston in 1950, the film had only limited showings in the United States, mainly in schools, until it played at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1951, opened in New York City in late 1952, and tied for first place at the Locarno International Film Festival in 1953...on the basis of a private screening in Hollywood, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer hired Bradley as a directing intern in 1950.
1. Scene Selection
2. PHOTO GALLERY
3. PROMO TRAILER
4. "Beware the Ides of March" - an analysis of Marc Anthony's Funeral Speech.
SPECIAL FEATURE BIOS:
1. Charlton Heston (aka: John Charles Carter)
Birth Date: 10/04/1924 - Evanston, Illinois
Died: Still Living
2. David Bradley (Director/Actor/Producer/Cinematographer)
Birth Date: 4/06/1920 - Winnetka, Illinois
Died: 12/19/1997 - Los Angeles, California
Great job by VCI Entertainment for releasing the "Julius Caesar" (1950), digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print...looking forward to more of the same from the '50s vintage...order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment, stay tuned once again with the classics that only VCI Entertainment (King of the Serials) can deliver...just the way we like 'em!
Total Time: 93 mins on DVD ~ VCI Home Video 8394 ~ (7/25/2006)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2008
Despite its full title, Shakespeare's THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR has long been recognized as centering on the tragedy of Marcus Brutus. For one thing, Caesar dies before the play is even half over; for another, Brutus is a good man who brings about his own downfall by his own mistakes. Shakespeare's script contains numerous scenes that provide direct and indirect evidence that Brutus is worthy of the audience's respect and admiration. In most productions, therefore, it has been crucial that the actor playing Brutus do so in a manner that holds the audience's attention and causes the audience to care deeply about the misfortune he is bringing down upon himself.
This 1970 film, JULIUS CAESAR, is fairly well cast in all its parts but the key one--Jason Robards as Brutus. Two actors with very minor parts are noteworthy for their skills--Lawrence Harrington as the Carpenter and Ron Pembler as the Cobbler--at the opening of the play. Of the main characters, John Gielgud as Caesar and Richard Johnson as Cassius are both excellent. Diana Rigg as Brutus's beautiful and faithful wife Portia, Robert Vaughn as an ironic eye-rolling Casca, and Richard Chamberlain as a calculating Octavius are more than adequate. And Charlton Heston does a reasonably good job as Mark Antony, although director Stuart Burge often seems more concerned with displaying Heston's "Roman-nose" profile and his semi-clad physique (in a G-string in one scene) than with his histrionic talents.
Robards is virtually sleepwalking throughout most of the film, usually sounding as if he has no understanding of the words he is speaking and often stumbling through them the way some high school freshman might if suddenly told to read Elizabethan blank verse for the first time in his life. In only a few of the later scenes does Robards seem to come half to life. The effect of his exceedingly weak performance is to shift the audience's attention, by default, onto Mark Antony (whom Robards often calls "Mark Anthony")--and Shakespeare's play is almost morphed into a kind of Victory-of-Antony celebration. It is as if, as the old cliché runs, "the tail is wagging the dog." (The only comparable misconstruing of a major Shakespearian tragedy that I can recall was when, in a 1970 "Hallmark Hall of Fame" TV production, Richard Chamberlain played Hamlet as such a pitifully and dangerously out-of-control maniac that the actor Richard Johnson, playing Hamlet's uncle/stepfather as a calm, brave, and rational man, often gained most of the audience's sympathy--and the play almost became "The Tragedy of King Claudius.")
It appears that once this film was completed, Republic Entertainment's marketing division decided to focus primarily on Heston as Mark Antony, reinforcing the impression that Robards' Brutus is indeed a subordinate character. Posters and virtually every box containing videos and DVDs of this production feature pictures of either Heston's face alone or Heston's face four times larger than the faces of Robards, Guelgud, Chamberlain, and Diana Rigg--as well as giving Heston's name top billing.
I titled my review "Chiefly Useful to Would-Be Actors" because I believe that some novice actors might learn how to speak Shakespeare's lines properly by hearing how NOT to do so from Robards' terrible example. Except for diehard fans of Heston, Richard Chamberlain, Diana Rigg, etc., most other viewers would do far better buying/renting Joseph L. Mankiewicz's much better 1953 film of JULIUS CAESAR--which also has Guelgud as Caesar, and has Marlon Brando as Antony and James Mason as Brutus.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2009
I feel as though I need to stick up for this version of Shakespeare's play. After teaching this play for almost ten years, I have read it over forty times and seen the 1953 movie version at least that often. However, I watched the Robards-Heston version for the first time this fall. Though I do like the older black-and-white movie, I have always felt that the director (and James Mason) misread Brutus, just as most people seem to do. Brutus is not noble and has very few redeeming qualities even outside of the fact that he betrayed Caesar. He is easily manipulated, vain, and dishonest with others and with himself. He is a man who does not know his own mind (as Cassius does). When he berates Cassius for taking bribes and shaking down the locals (Act IV), his self-righteous platitudes collapse under the weight of his real concern - namely that Cassius is not sharing the money with him so that he can pay his soldiers (because he is just too honest to steal). He consistently makes bad decisions after hijacking the conspiracy (letting Anthony live, letting Anthony speak at the funeral, letting Anthony speak after him rather than before, marching to meet Antony's and Octavius's troops and yielding the high ground, etc), misreads the people around him, and ultimately puts himself first rather than the Rome he whines about wanting to protect. The genius of this play is not in Brutus's tortured soul struggling to balance his love of Caesar versus his love of Rome; instead it is in Shakespeare's brilliant ability at misdirection (for lack of a better term). I enjoyed this movie precisely because I think Robards was trying mightily to depict a Brutus who was more than a bit vain and shallow - a wooden figure in over his head being manipulated by those around him. I am not sure he always pulls this off, but I do think that an actor trying to create a Brutus who wants to seem the savior but who is actually an "empty toga" deserves more credit than one who plays a "traditional" but inaccurate "tragic hero" (as Mason does). While his performance is hit-and-miss I really appreciate that he gives us a Brutus to contrast to the earlier film. Some of the best classroom discussions I have ever had concerning this play have come this week when letting the students compare and contrast scenes from each film. (Plus I always have a soft spot for Heston. I was fortunate to meet him briefly at a function about 12 years ago. I said little more than "Hello" but I did get to shake his hand and have a picture taken.)
A very good movie for those looking to see a different, and I think more accurate rendition of this wonderful play.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
But the rest of the movie is good. It doesn't have the severity of the Brando version by Mankiewicz, with tough old Louis Calhern as Caesar and Satanic Edmond O'Brien as Casca. That was in a stark, nearly noir black and white--even the red hair of Mankiewicz' leading ladies Deborah Kerr and Greer Garson was muted to a silvery gray that served them ill. In this sixties rendition, the colorful hills of Rome call back fond memories of Zeffirelli's stagings of ROMEO and TAMING OF THE SHREW. Unfortunately the DVD gives us an inadequate and misleading account of most of the colorful setups, which on screen were a beauty photographed by Ken Higgins, the man who brought us Swinging England with his location work on GEORGY GIRL and DARLING.
Stuart Burge, the director, had a spotty career, but for a while he was on a roll and he was Olivier's favorite director for a bit. He directed the film of UNCLE VANYA with Olivier and Michael Redgrave, as well as Olivier's unbelievably hammy take on the Moor of Venice in OTHELLO. I wonder if Olivier was busy when Burge was hired for Othello, or if Heston kind of bumped Olivier out of the way. Surely Olivier would have made a more suitable Brutus than did our own homeboy Jason Robards Jr. whose performance has got to be in the hall of shame, hopelessly conceived, and possibly executed while he was drunk. There's no other explanation for how bad he is.
Charlton Heston, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaughn otherwise make you think that Americans can really take Shakespeare in stride. It's a shame we didn't see Heston in more Shakespearean parts. He can be a terribly good actor, and even in bad parts is pretty persuasive. This is his Planet of the Apes Mark Antony, fully committed to saving the world for the human beings. I enjoyed the movie, but in some parts you'll be stupefied by the shoffy condition of the release, and by Robards' bottom of the barrel (or bottle?) take on Brutus.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
For any version of William Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESAR to be a success, the actor playing Marcus Antonius must give an outstanding "I've come to bury Caesar" soliloquy. Charlton Heston does exactly this-- his emotionally-charged and finely-timed rendition of a most crucial speech is superb and leaves no doubt in the viewer's mind of the underlying message being conveyed to Romans who have lent him their ears. On so many levels, Heston in fact -is- this great Shakespearean anti-hero.
That Jason Robards was miscast as Marcus Junius Brutus is an opinion held even by Mr. Heston himself. Robards' quiet, self-involved portrayal of Brutus may not immediately serve the story's needs, but later, the contrast between an indecisive Brutus and the take-charge Antony is that much better delineated, due entirely to Robards supposedly vague approach. His Brutus, as played against Heston is appropriate; in fact, Robards should be given more credit for a daring interpretation of this complex character.
Excellent Technicolor photography, a nicely unobtrusive score and top notch casting make this "Julius Caesar" an elegant and memorable film.
Also set in Roman times, TITUS, with Anthony Hopkins (as Titus Andronicus), is a startling and superlative adaptation of Shakespeare's darkest play.
Parenthetical number prior to title is a 1 to 10 viewer poll rating found at a film research website.
(6.0) Julius Caesar (UK-1970) - Charlton Heston/Jason Robards/John Gielgud/Richard Johnson/Robert Vaughn/Richard Chamberlain/Diana Rigg/Christopher Lee/Jill Bennett
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Not a bad version at all of Shakespeare's play. Most of the attention for Julius Caesar is clearly with the 1950s version, but this one holds up as well. In this version, Charlton Heston plays Antony. Others include Jason Richards (Brutus), John Gielgud (Caesar), Richard Johnson (Cassius), Robert Vaughn (Casca), Richard Chamberlain (Octavius), and Diana Riggs (Portia).
In this story, Brutus comes forth as the tragic hero who joins the conspiracy to kill the ambitious Roman, Julius Caesar. Shakespeare's story delves much into the realm of politics within the Roman society. Brutus' tragic flaw is perhaps that he sees too much of the benevolent side of people and society; he gives in to help Rome only after pondering deeply the plan of Cassius, and "trusts" Antony to not give a stirring speech (big mistake there). He still considers Caesar a "good" man, but justifies his role in the conspiracy as for the common good of Rome. A tale that definitely concerns itself with justification, or lack thereof, of removing leaders from political positions, and the consequences those actions bring unto an entire nation and their citizens.
The set design, background and acting are true to the play. One of the differences between this and the Brando version is the scene in which Caesar is assassinated. It is far more bloody and gruesome (yet the movie is rated G, go figure). Heston, as Antony, does a decent job with the "Countrymen, lend me your ears" speech, making an emotional appeal to the crowd as a friend of Caesar. He stirs up the rage among the Romans in this emotional appeal on Caesar's behalf. Eventually, he will go to war against two of the leaders of the conspiracy, Cassius and Brutus.
This is definitely worth a view, especially if you are a Shakespeare fan. This also is an excellent resource for the study of Julius Caesar.
Also Recommended: Julius Caesar (Marlon Brando version)