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Julius Caesar (1953) Poster

(1953)

Trivia

John Gielgud was cast after the director Joseph L. Mankiewicz saw him play Cassius in a stage production at Stratford-on-Avon. Mankiewicz was in Stratford to see Paul Scofield, whom he was considering casting as Mark Antony, until Marlon Brando's screen test turned out so well.
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Giving Marlon Brando the role of Mark Antony was considered stunt casting at the time because of his reputation for mumbling following A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz had Paul Scofield lined up for the role should Brando's screen test not work out.
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The film's soundtrack was actually recorded in four-track stereo, although it had not been filmed in widescreen, but the movie was eventually released in mono. If it had been released in four-track stereo, this film, and not The Robe (1953), which was made both in CinemaScope (a screen ratio of 2.55:1) and standard "Academy ratio" (1:37:1), would have been the first motion picture released using that method of recording. "Julius Caesar" was eventually released in stereo on laserdisc and DVD.
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The film was shot in just 35 days, using some of the sets from Quo Vadis (1951), which were dismantled, flown from Rome to Hollywood and then re-assembled for this film. Producer John Houseman confirmed that it was never intended that the film be shot in color, as he and the director Joseph L. Mankiewicz wanted it to have the urgency of a newsreel, not to look like a costume epic.
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James Mason and Joseph L. Mankiewicz enjoyed a strong working relationship following 5 Fingers (1952) the year before. Marlon Brando was very conscious of this and saw that Mankiewicz was favoring Mason in many of the key scenes. Brando threatened to walk off the picture unless the balance was restored to his character.
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This was Marlon Brando's only on screen Shakespearean role.
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This netted Marlon Brando his third consecutive Best Actor Oscar nomination in three years. He had previously been nominated for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Viva Zapata! (1952)
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The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Marlon Brando, Greer Garson, Edmond O'Brien and John Gielgud; and three Oscar nominees: James Mason, Louis Calhern and Deborah Kerr.
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The one scene in the play involving Cinna the Poet, in which he is mistaken for Cinna the Conspirator and killed by the angry mob, was filmed but deleted before release.
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Director John Huston remarked on Brando's intense Method acting in this film as "like a hot furnace opening in a dark room."
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Spencer Tracy considered Edmond O'Brien's performance as Casca the best in the film.
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This is one of two films directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz to feature Julius Caesar and Mark Antony as major characters. The other is Cleopatra (1963).
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The film takes place in 44 BC.
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John Gielgud (Cassius) would later play the title character in Julius Caesar (1970).
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The featurette on the DVD, "The Rise of Two Legends", is presented in anamorphic widescreen format (16:9), while the film itself is presented in its original standard "Academy format".
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Marlon Brando became good friends with John Gielgud during filming and frequently consulted Gielgud on how to deliver the verse. Gielgud invited Brando to come to London to do a Shakespeare season on the London stage under his direction, but it never happened.
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Richard Hale (Soothsayer), John Hoyt (Decius Brutus), Ian Wolfe (Caius Ligarius), Morgan Farley (Artemidorus), Michael Ansara (Pindarus) and Vic Perrin (Hoodlum) all later made guest appearances in Star Trek (1966): Hale in Star Trek: The Paradise Syndrome (1968), Hoyt in Star Trek: The Cage (1986), Wolfe in Star Trek: Bread and Circuses (1968) and Star Trek: All Our Yesterdays (1969), Farley in Star Trek: The Return of the Archons (1967) and Star Trek: The Omega Glory (1968), Ansara in Star Trek: Day of the Dove (1968) and Perrin in Star Trek: The Menagerie: Part II (1966), Star Trek: Arena (1967), Star Trek: The Changeling (1967) and Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror (1967). Furthermore, Lawrence Dobkin (Citizen of Rome) directed Star Trek: Charlie X (1966).
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Producer John Houseman had also produced a version of the play on Broadway in 1937 which had starred Orson Welles to great acclaim. The two had fallen out in the intervening years so Welles was never considered for the film.
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This was John Gielgud's first film since The Prime Minister (1941) 12 years earlier.
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