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The Robe (1953) Poster

(1953)

Trivia

There was speculation that remarks Richard Burton made about Hollywood blacklisting while filming this movie may be the reason why he never won an Oscar, despite being nominated seven times.
Richard Burton was once threatened with a gun by Stewart Granger because of the affair he was having with Granger's wife Jean Simmons during filming.
Richard Burton was an atheist and he did not care for the film's religious theme.
Richard Burton smoked 100 cigarettes a day throughout filming.
Richard Burton hated making the film so much that he turned down a contract from 20th Century-Fox. He was amazed to receive an Oscar nomination after critics had almost universally described his performance as "wooden".
This film was first telecast on US television on Easter weekend, 1968. Not only was the ABC-TV telecast aired at an early hour (7:00 PM EST) to facilitate family viewing, but it aired with only one commercial break, an unheard-of concession for the time.
The sequel, Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954), was commissioned even before this film had been released.
Director Henry Koster chose Donald C. Klune - his 2nd assistant director - to play the role of Jesus in the film. Klune would thus sign all the extras' vouchers and finish the paperwork while still in costume. He also had to eat lunch in his dressing room, as the studio thought it would be inappropriate for "Jesus" to eat in the commissary at Fox.
It is the first motion picture in CinemaScope to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award.
Richard Burton had a ferocious argument with 20th Century-Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck before the film's release. This was another reason why he decided to return to London's West End theater district rather than remain in Hollywood.
Burt Lancaster was originally cast in the role played by Victor Mature.
At one point the producers considered making Marcellus older and casting Laurence Olivier.
Richard Burton once said this was the least favorite of all his films. However in an October 1979 interview he named The Bramble Bush (1960) and Ice Palace (1960) as the worst films he had starred in.
Following the movie's release Richard Burton was accused of being a wooden film actor, a charge that would remain with him throughout his career.
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Acclaimed by many film historians as a triumph in the art of motion-picture music, Alfred Newman's reverent, intense film score failed to garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Score for a Dramatic Motion Picture (though Newman still took home an Oscar that night - for his adaptation of music for the Irving Berlin-Ethel Merman frolic, Call Me Madam (1953). Angered by the Academy voters' snub of Newman, distinguished film composer Franz Waxman, an Oscar winner for Sunset Blvd. (1950) and A Place in the Sun (1951), resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Ironically, when Newman, in his role as 20th Century-Fox's head of music, hired Waxman to write the score to the film's sequel, _Demetrius and the Gladiators_(1954), Waxman insisted that he should adapt Newman's original themes from _The Robe_, rather than write his own. It may be that that year's winning Dramatic Score had been submitted in the wrong category. Bronislau Kaper's charming score for Lili (1953), really a semi-musical starring Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer, spotlighted Kaper's melodies for two dream-dance sequences (choreographed by Charles Walters), and the wistful hit waltz, "Li-Lili, Hi-Lo" (lyrics by Helen Deutsch). It was not nominated.
Famous as the first film released in CinemaScope. It was not planned that way. After a week of shooting in standard "flat" Academy aspect ratio (1.37:1), the production was shut down. When production was resumed, they started from scratch, shooting alternate takes in both CinemaScope, and Academy format, on the assumption that not all theaters booking the film would be rushing to purchase expensive wide screens and stereophonic sound playback equipment. The film was released in CinemaScope only theatrically at first. In the 1990's this "flat" version was released to television (when "letterboxing" began to be used for widescreen films shown there). .
The opening shot after the title credits (and the background "red robe" curtain parts) is actually a scene lifted from this film's sequel, Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954). That's Jay Robinson as Caligula presiding over the ceremony preceding the gladiatorial games. This differs from the opening in the "flat" 1.37:1 Academy ratio version. Susan Hayward as Messalina sitting to his left, Barry Jones as Claudius on his right, William Marshall as Glycon in the front row of gladiator on the far right, Victor Mature as Demetrius standing directly behind him and Ernest Borgnine as Strabo who is leading the gladiatorial procession.
The set of Cana, the village of Galilea where Marcellus Gallio meets Peter, was a redress of sets originally built for _Algiers_(1936), that had stood on the studio backlot for seventeen years. The sets were later used in Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) - this film's sequel - as the Christian neighborhood in Rome where Demetrius lives in the beginning of the movie. The well with the old broken columns can be easily recognized.
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Although widely regarded as the first film produced in the anamorphic CinemaScope format (along with How To Marry A Millionaire), that honour actually belongs to a French film shot in the late-1920s called Construire Un Feu (To Build A Fire). Based on a Jack London story and directed by Claude Autant-Lara, it utilised a lens developed by French astronomer Henri Chrétien and was patented as the Hypergonar process.

Bizarrely, higher-ups in the French film industry demanded that cinema owners stop showing the film, even threatening them with a revocation of their exhibition license should they not comply immediately. This perhaps explains why there are no surviving prints of this landmark film: indeed, only a scant handful of frames exist to this day.

In 1955, Chrétien received an Academy Award for his work on CinemaScope.
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The film rights to this film had originally been bought by RKO Radio Pictures in 1943, at the time of the novel's initial publication. Because of wartime austerity, and RKO's shaky financial situation, the studio shelved the expensive historical epic, eventually selling the rights to Twentieth-Century Fox.
The movie was advertised as "the modern entertainment miracle you can see without the use of glasses" - a dig at the 3D movies that were en vogue at the time.
Darryl F. Zanuck originally offered the role of Marcellus to Tyrone Power in a bid to get him to renew his contract with Fox. Power instead opted to star in the play "John Brown's Body" on Broadway, which closed after 65 performances.
Janet Leigh was considered for the role of Diana.
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Richard Burton was 27 when he played Marcellus.
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Ernst Toch's Hallelujah chorus, employed by Alfred Newman in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) for the scene where Quasimodo rescues Esmeralda from being burned at the stake, was used by Alfred Newman once again in _The Robe_, when Marcellus Gallio and his band of Christians rescue Demetrius from the Emperor Caligula's Praetorian prison.
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This film contains approximately 517 transitions (edits, dissolves etc) in about 131 minutes of action. This equates to an average shot length of about 15 seconds.
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The second movie to begin shooting in CinemaScope, but the first to be released (Sept. 16, 1953). The first film to go before CinemaScope lens-equipped cameras was How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and was released Nov. 4, 1953.
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Until the recent DVD and Blu-ray versions, the film's co-screenwriter Albert Maltz's screen credit was omitted as a lingering effect of the infamous Hollywood blacklist.
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Television premiere: 26 March 1967 on the ABC network, run as an Easter special by Ford Motor Company.
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Writer Herb Meadow worked, uncredited, on the script.
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