Julius Caesar (1970)

Genres - Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Historical Epic, Sword-and-Sandal, Tragedy  |   Release Date - Jun 4, 1970 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Mike Cummings

This 1970 Stuart Burge adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar merits the attention of moviegoers in spite of the weak performance by Jason Robards in the role of Brutus. Except for Robards, the cast performs admirably -- notably Charlton Heston as Antony, John Gielgud as Caesar, Richard Johnson as Cassius, Robert Vaughn as Casca, and Diana Rigg as Portia. Moreover, unlike the heralded 1953 version starring Marlon Brando, this rendering is in color -- a definite plus for young adults weaned on technical realism (though the earlier version has superior sets and art direction). The mixture of accents in the Burge production -- some British, some American -- does not mar the film. After all, there were regional Latin accents in the time of Caesar and regional English accents in the time of Shakespeare. Heston brings power and magnetism to his Antony performance, and his interpretation of the famous funeral oration ("Friends, Romans, countrymen . . . ") is particularly good. On the other hand, Robards' portrayal of Brutus lacks vigor and depth. That he got the role over others -- reportedly, both Orson Welles and Vaughn wanted it -- is a shame, since Brutus is one of the most important characters in the play, if not the most important. Nevertheless, Burge's overall production is a good one, capable of satisfying Shakespeare aficionados, students, and the general public.