And while speaking of Shakespeare on film, what’s with Warner Home Video’s continuing delay in releasing a remastered DVD of Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s Julius Caesar (’53)? By my standards this superbly acted, exquisitely mounted black-and-white version is one of the best Shakespeare rides around, Hollywood-produced or otherwise. (Dave Kehr might piss on it and wish for more of a Plan 9 From Outer Space approach, but that’s his right as a critic.)
Marlon Brando‘s performance as Marc Antony may not exemplify the grunty, earthy Marlon of legend, but it’s one of his most striking performances. No one has ever delivered the “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” speech with more punch or pizzazz. It’s right up there in terms of rage and fire with his Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar…seriously. That moment at the end of Act Two when his newly empowered Antony walks up to a marble bust of the late Ceasar, puts his hand on the base and turns it toward him is one of Brando’s finest non-verbal bits ever… and people are barely aware of it.
James Mason‘s Brutus, Louis Calhern‘s Caesar, Edmond O’Brien ‘s Casca, John Gielgud‘s Cassisus, John Doucette‘s “carpenter, citizen of Rome”, John Hoyt‘s Decius Brutus, Greer Garson‘s Calpurnia….an awesome cast delivering one knockout moment after another. Not to mention Miklos Rosza‘s haunting score and Joseph Ruttenberg‘s luscious cinematography.
I thought WHV would issue this film for sure after Brando’s death in ’04, but nope. There’s no question this film is an essential, so whassup, Ned Price?