Julius Caesar (1953)
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great performance from Brando; very good adaptation
As much as I like the character of Cleopatra, I think the story is stronger for excluding her. She is so dynamic that she pulls focus whereas here the focus stays on the betrayal
1953's MGM production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar feels rather old-fashioned and consequently doesn't stick too firmly in the mind. The large Roman sets are a highlight, and some of the leads give strong performances, but the direction is a little dull, and the story seems to crash to a halt rather suddenly. I don't normally take issue with American actors in Shakespeare, but sometimes the mish-mash of accents can be distracting; so it is here. But James Mason is sympathetic and watchable as Brutus, and Marlon Brando's Marc Anthony gets all the big moments he deserves and knocks them out of the park (at the time, this was completely against type, as he'd always played naturalistic mumblers and grunters). John Gielgud is Cassius, so you know the character is in good hands. I'm not sure Louis Calhern necessarily gives me something interesting with Caesar himself though. In any case, performances aside, this production hits all the necessary beats, but never wows me.
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In 4 official lists
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This movie ranks #7 in Locarno Film Festival - Golden Leopard
This movie ranks #22 in National Board of Review Award - Best Film
This movie ranks #190 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #442 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?