Julius Caesar (1953)
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
I used to do, for laughs, an exaggerated impersonation of Marlon Brando, as the sort of street-tough he plays in On the Waterfront, uttering the immortal words of the Bard:
When that the poor hath cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Yet Brutus says that Caesar was ambitious, And Brutus is an honorable man.
It was an easy sendup, and yet Brando was brilliant in the role he played for our recommended film this week – perfectly cast. For Mark Antony had, in fact, more than a little of the seedy and the shady in him, and Louis Calhern, as Julius Caesar, sounds less like an Oxford don articulating incomparable poetry – and Shakespeare’s verse in Julius Caesar is as pure and sharp as diamond – than like the boss of a vast and not always legal enterprise, which Caesar really was. So if you want a dusting of periwigs and aristocratic glitter, this isn’t the film for you. But if you want a gritty, highly literate, relentless examination of power politics, t…
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