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Julius Caesar (1970)

The growing ambition of Julius Caesar is a source of major concern to his close friend Brutus. Cassius persuades him to participate in his plot to assassinate Caesar, but they have both sorely underestimated Mark Antony.

Director:

Stuart Burge

Writers:

Robert Furnival (adaptation), William Shakespeare (play)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlton Heston ... Mark Antony
Jason Robards ... Brutus
John Gielgud ... Julius Caesar (as Sir John Gielgud)
Richard Johnson ... Cassius
Robert Vaughn ... Casca
Richard Chamberlain ... Octavius Caesar
Diana Rigg ... Portia
Christopher Lee ... Artemidorus
Jill Bennett ... Calpurnia
Derek Godfrey Derek Godfrey ... Decius Brutus
David Dodimead David Dodimead ... Lepidus
Michael Gough ... Metellus Cimber
David Neal ... Cinna the Conspirator
Preston Lockwood Preston Lockwood ... Trebonius
John Moffatt ... Popilius Lena
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Storyline

The growing ambition of Julius Caesar is a source of major concern to his close friend Brutus. Cassius persuades him to participate in his plot to assassinate Caesar but they have both sorely underestimated Mark Antony. Written by GusF

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

No grander Caesar... No greater cast!

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 May 1970 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Júlio César See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A topless woman (who somehow was missed by censors) walks past in the background during the opening credits sequence. See more »

Goofs

During the murder in the Senate, the blood on Gaio Giulio Cesare's face shifts position, color, and at times entirely disappears between shots. See more »

Quotes

Julius Caesar: Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights. Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
See more »

Connections

Version of An Honourable Murder (1960) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Flawed But Still Worthwhile Adaptation Of A Great Shakespeare Opus
16 July 2013 | by virek213See all my reviews

When it comes to cinematically pulling anything off that has its basis in the world of William Shakespeare, the task can frequently be enormous. In general, Orson Welles and Lord Laurence Olivier (but call him Larry) are the two men most identified with successes at the Bard's work, on both sides of the camera; then there's Franco Zeffirelli (especially with his classic 1968 film version of ROMEO AND JULIET), and the later adaptations of Kenneth Branagh. And much more controversially, there is director Roman Polanski's extremely violent 1971 take on MACBETH, which was as close as The Bard came to outright horror.

And then there's the political/historical tragedy that is JULIUS CAESAR.

The 1953 version, adapted for the screen and directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, was and still is considered one of the best of the Bard's adaptations ever to make it to the screen. And then in 1969, an enterprising and young Canadian producer named Peter Snell decided to mount a new adaptation of this work. The result was, by all accounts, one that arguably fell into the shadow of Mankiewicz's version, which after all had Marlon Brando as Marc Antony; Louis Calhern as Caesar; and Sir John Gielgud as Cassisus, one of the conspirators. Indeed, many consider this film wildly erratic for various reasons, including one quixotic bit of casting that didn't come off. Still, the play is the thing, as the old saying goes.

For this go-around at JULIUS CAESAR, the film is helmed by English director Stuart Burge, who did a yeoman adaptation of the Bard's OTHELLO in 1965, with Robert Furnival faithfully adapting the play to good effect. And you have, in the main, a great cast. Gielgud appears here in the title role, and he does a superlative job. Charlton Heston does a solid turn as Marc Antony (although in his journals he admits that's not such a big trick, since, in his view, if you can't do Marc Antony, you probably shouldn't be doing The Bard in the first place). The film also benefits from the turns given by Richard Chamberlain (as Octavius Caesar), Robert Vaughn (as Casca), Christopher Lee (as Artemidorus), Richard Johnson (as Cassius), Diana Rigg (as Portia), and Jill Bennett (as Calpurnia).

The thing, though, is that a lot of the focus of the play, and subsequently the film, is not so much on Caesar as much as it is on Marcus Brutus, the man torn between his allegiance to Caesar and a need to save the Roman Republic from Caesar's machinations. It takes a solid performance to pull it off really well; and if the actor doing Brutus isn't well versed in Shakespeare, the film will invariably suffer. This is what happens here, with Jason Robards having accepted a role he just wasn't cut out for, when the oft-elusive Orson Welles was unavailable.. What worked in the plays of Eugene O'Neill, and on screen in films like ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE, and MAGNOLIA doesn't really work well here. He is simply a great actor in a great role, but it was not one that he could have ever showed his best at—though over the course of the film, he does improve.

That having been said, the stellar performances of Heston, Gielgud, Vaughn, and the others make up for Robards' inadequacies; and Burge's direction, while not really on a par with Welles, Olivier, or Zefirelli, is solid enough. Clearly, this isn't the most successful adaptation of The Bard. But given how hard it is to pull Shakespeare off cinematically, it is worth a 7 (out of 10).


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