Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1953. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on the play by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg. Produced by John Houseman. Music by Miklos Rozsa. Production Design by Edward C. Carfagno, Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Herschel McCoy. Film Editing by John D. Dunning. Academy Awards 1953.
You wouldn’t think that Marlon Brando‘s mumbling Method acting would suit Shakespeare so well, but here’s evidence that given the right director (in this case, Joseph L. Mankiewicz slapping Brando around to get him to enunciate), it’s a possibility. He is excellent as Marc Antony, the conflicted politician who must become leader of Rome after his beloved mentor, Julius Caesar is murdered by dissatisfied senators. One of Shakespeare’s most intellectual plays, its themes of political morality are fleshed out extremely well by Mankiewicz’s intelligent work and the fine cast, including James Mason and John Gielgud. The thankless women’s role are cast far higher than they deserve, with a breathtaking Deborah Kerr making the most of her one major scene as Portia and Greer Garson appearing quite sturdy as the paranoid Calpurnia. It features beautiful production design and costume work, plus a fabulous brand of baby oil that keeps Brando looking his hunka-hunka-burnin’-love-best throughout the entire thing.