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Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Actors: Louis Calhern, Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud, Edmond O'Brien
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Genres: Drama
NR     2006     2hr 0min

Film adaptation of Shakespeare's play chronicling the aftermath of Caesar's assassination at the hands of Marc Anthony, Cassius and Brutus.

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Louis Calhern, Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud, Edmond O'Brien
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Creators: Joseph Ruttenberg, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, John D. Dunning, John Houseman, William Shakespeare
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/07/2006
Original Release Date: 06/04/1953
Theatrical Release Date: 06/04/1953
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Showdown: Marc Anthony vs. Brutus.
Maximiliano F Yofre | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 01/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Shakespeare's plays are an inextinguishable source of inspiration for movie-makers. His works are approached from very different stands: as transposition to other time and surroundings as "West Side Story" (1961) and "Ran" (1985); from a very personal optic as "Titus" (2000) and "Looking for Richard" (1996) or as in the present case with a classic approach.

I've seen this movie when I was a kid, keep a very deep impression from it and remained a Brando's fan forever. I saw it again many times afterwards. I was always delighted by the play and the outstanding acting given by Brando, Mason and the rest of the cast.

This is one of the greatest Shakespeare's historical tragedies. Focuses on the last days of Julius Caesar's life, but the main characters are: Brutus, torn apart by his love to the Republic and his loyalty to Caesar and Marc Anthony, unfaltering in his love for Caesar and will to revenge his murder.

The cast (a mix of British & Americans actors and actresses) gives an overwhelming performance. First of all Brando's Mark Anthony, especially when giving his mournful speech; words are Shakespeare's the powerful way to cast them Marlon's.
James Mason is equally inspired, he transmit to the audience all the storms that rage in Brutus' soul, his moral suffering and final choice.
Only one little step below is John Gielgud's Cassius, the "black eminence" of the conspiracy. The viewer will also enjoy Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr and Edmond O'Brian performances.

A great movie for Shakespeare lovers and general public!
Reviewed by Max Yofre."
Brando shines as Antony
Man Martin | Atlanta, Georgia | 01/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Julius Caesar (1953) directed by Joseph Mankiewicz Forget The Manchurian Candidate, this movie should be required viewing during every campaign season. Watching the mob swayed from one direction to the other first by Brutus' (James Mason) speech and then by Marc Antony's (Marlon Brando) is the best warning there is on the perils of democracy. The same unshaven louts who castigate Caesar during Brutus' speech, lionize him during Antony's. In the end the crowd is whipped into a frenzy of revenge when they hear Caesar left them money and land in his will. In our day this sort of mob control has been replaced with entitlement programs. Mankiewicz, one of Hollywood's ablest craftsmen, creates a faithful adaptation of this play. One of Shakespeare's most mature and sophisticated tragedies, Julius Caesar is peopled with such complex and subtle characters, we don't know whom to root for. There is no Iago or Richard III to step forward and tell us boldly, "I am a villain." Each of the characters acts for both high and low motivations alike. Brutus, the noblest and most sympathetic of the characters, battles futilely to save the republic from the inevitable emerging dictatorship. But in spite of his greatness, he is an easy tool for the Machiavellian Cassius (John Gielgud). In a wonderfully nuanced role, Cassius preys on the ambition and vanity Brutus does not even recognize in himself. Cassius, though a callow manipulative bribe-taking scoundrel, can yet be so noble and brave. Shortly before killing himself, he tells his slave he has a final order for him, "Live free." We see beneath his self interest lies a magnanimous heart. In spite of its title, this is not the story of Julius Caesar; his corpse is just the island on which all the other characters fight. Nevertheless, it is an important role. Louis Calhern is too avuncular and fatuous to play the wily Caesar, a puzzling hole in an otherwise fine cast. As an authority figure, Calhern would be perfect to play a dim CEO from a 60's sitcom: Larry Tate of MacMahon and Tate, but not the colossus who bestrides the world. When Caesar tells Antony (Marlon Brando) he trusts only fat, well-fed-looking men, it should seem like a shrewd campaigner passing on a useful observation to a promising up-and-comer, instead it comes off like the loose-lipped worries of a dotard. A generation of movie viewers familiar with Marlon Brando only as the Godfather or the fat guy who gets it at the end of Apocalypse Now might be puzzled this man was ever considered a sex symbol. "Smouldering sensuality?" What are you talking about? In this movie, though, in which Brando won his third Oscar, we can see what made so many women melt. Before being covered by so much lard, the man had quite a physique and on screen was by turns sensitive and attractively arrogant. As Mark Antony, his tenderness at the death of his friend, Julius Caesar, is too deep for tears. During his funeral oration, he turns from the crowd to recover himself, overcome with emotion. But Brando is no sissy wimp. Even at that moment of grief, we can see him listening to the crowd's reaction, gauging their response and calculating his next move."
All Hail Caesar!!!
C. Freeman | San Leandro, CA United States | 02/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"and this magnificent production of one the Bard's most memorable plays. This movie boasts an all star cast, and each do a splendid job of portraying their characters, my favorite being John Geilgud, one of the all-time great Shakespearean actors who's Cassius is an emotional boilerplate of envy. James Mason's Brutus is his friend and exact emotional opposite: a self-controlled, even-tempered, honor-loving man. Watching the interplay of these two opposites was for me the most thrilling part of the movie. I can't imagine any actors playing these roles other than Mason and Geilgud. Also, Brando's Mark Antony was marvelous to behold. How he skillfully moves the crowd to riot was nothing less than a virtuoso display of acting that proves Brando to be the genius that he was.

If you like Shakespeare, and particularly 'Julius Caesar', but haven't seen this one yet, BUY IT, you won't be disappointed."
Riveting production of Shakespeare's Great Roman Tragedy...
dooby | 11/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a thoroughly riveting production of Shakespeare's tragedy. It boasts a stellar cast and excellent production values. I found it strange that it is touted as a Marlon Brando film when Brando doesn't actually play the central role. That honour belongs to James Mason who provides a brilliant portrait of the tormented Brutus, the one truly noble man in this whole sad affair. Sir John Gielgud is also outstanding as the envious, conniving but weak Cassius. Brando's performance, great as it is, should be seen in the context of the equally great performances of those around him. In Robert Osborne's introduction, we are told how Brando sought Gielgud's help in preparing for his role; recording Gielgud's delivery of Antony's lines, and assiduously listening to and studying from them. The final effect is electrifying. This is not the boring Shakespeare dreaded by schoolkids the world over. This is gripping, searing stuff that, as Laurence Fishburne says in the accompanying documentary, made Shakespeare "the Aaron Spelling of his day." The one sore spot was Louis Calhern's Caesar who looks more like Hollywood's caricature of a Roman Patrician than Shakespeare's intended character. But that's a minor quibble for Caesar is really just a minor figure, even though the play does bear his name.

I was delighted by the reviewer who pointed out the interpretational possibilities regarding Brutus' character and motivations. However I disagree with him when he says that the film failed in its depiction of Brutus. The reviewer's preference for a darker, more self-aware Brutus is fascinating to explore but this is a Hollywood film from the early 1950s and we should see it in that context. The beauty of Shakespeare is that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. However, in the end, it is the producer who has to decide how he wants to depict the character on stage. The producers in this case, chose this particular interpretation; a relatively straightforward, clearcut view of Brutus; that of the essentially good, noble, but naive hero. It is as valid an interpretation as the one proposed by the reviewer. I agree that the darker view could make the film even more fascinating to watch. But it does not mean that the present interpretation is a failure. It is a perfectly valid interpretation in an altogther fine film. If this wonderful production can spark interest in viewers to find out more and to question further the original play, then it will have done far more than anyone could hope for.

Warner has finally made this classic film available on DVD in a fine transfer preserving its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio (Full Screen). The B&W print looks largely excellent, with very good contrast and excellent grey shading. There are a few segments where flutters of dirt and nicks suddenly appear but they are thankfully rare. Film grain is visible throughout but is never obtrusive. The original Mono sound has been remastered to give a very creditable sounding DD 5.1 track. Speech is crystal clear and largely front-centered. Strangely there is also a French language track. It was bizarre listening to Shakespeare in French. Optional English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are included. There is a fine 20-minute documentary "The Rise of Two Legends," on Brando's role in this and other films. There are also trailers for 4 of the 5 films being released as part of the Marlon Brando Collection. If this interests you, you might want to consider getting the entire boxed-set because there is a substantial difference in price and quite some savings to be made."