- "Beware the Ides of March" - an analysis of Marc Antony's Funeral Speech
- Still gallery
- Promo trailers
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An innovative approach to a classic. One of the two "unofficial" films (the other being Peer Gynt) Heston appeared in before his 1950 "debut" film, Dark City. Independently produced in and around the Chicago area, it tells the familiar tale of Caesar, with Heston cast as Marc Anthony, a role he would again tackle in the 1970's Julius Caesar. With a budget of less than $15,000, director Bradley relied on ingenuity: for example, shooting Caesar's funeral on the steps of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry - a building modeled after early Roman architecture. Bonus Features: Scene Selection| Bios| Promo Trailer| Photo Gallery| Bonus: "Beware the Ides of March" an analysis of Marc Anthony's Funeral Speech. Specs: DVD5; Dolby Digital; 106 minutes; B&W; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1950; SRP - $19.99.
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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.
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If somehow you missed the play or the history, basically Julius Caesar...Read more