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Non-Review Review: Julius Caesar (1970)

Julius Caesar is a very ropey production. Produced by Commonwealth United Entertainment and American International Pictures, it doesn’t stand up as an enduring adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy. While quite a few of the essential ingredients are lacking, Charlton Heston actually does a fairly good job as Marc Anthony – it’s just that he’s never quite as good as Marlon Brando had been in the role back in 1953. On the other hand, Jason Robards is woefully miscast as Brutus, transforming “noble Brutus” from the most honest man in Rome to the most sinister of assassins. The production values are fairly decent, but Julius Caesar perhaps provides evidence that these sorts of historical epics were already on the way out by the start of the 1970s.

Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend my your expensive set designers!

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Non-Review Review: Cleopatra

The big budget Cleopatra is renowned as something of a massive contradiction. It was panned mercilessly by critics, and yet picked up four Academy Awards (and five more nominations). It was the most financially successful movie of the year, and yet still turned a fairly substantial loss. It’s one of the last great Hollywood epics, and it almost killed Twentieth Century Fox. So there’s something strangely fitting about the final line, in which it was suggested that the movie’s subject was “the last of so many noble rulers.” In many ways, the film was the last of its kind, but perhaps the most lavish. Perhaps history has been kinder to the production than its initial release was, but it’s still a very flawed film.

I can see Cleo now...

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