Posts Tagged ‘richard burton’

The Robe

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Released - September, 1953  The Robe The Robe

Directed By - Henry Koster

Starring - Richard Burton (Marcellus Gallio), Jean Simmons (Diana), Victor Mature (Demetrius), Michael Rennie (Peter).

Description – Marcellus Gallio is is Roman military tribune in charge of the unit assigned to crucify Jesus. Drinking and gambling after the crucifixion, Marcellus wins Jesus’ robe in a dice game.

The stage was set for this scenerio when Marcellus wins an auction against  Emperor Tiberius’ heir Caligula for defiant slave Demetrius who is then released from slavery by Marcellus. In gratitude, Demetrius becomes a personal servant to Marcellus. Embarrassed by the slave suction loss, Caligula arranges for Marcellus transfer to Jerusalem.

Owning the robe proves to be a turning point in the life of Marcellus. Wearing the robe during a rain, Marcellus immediately begins feeling remorse for the crucifixion and experiences a painful seizure. He then orders Demetrius to remove the robe from him.

The Christian Demetrius, offended by Marcellus’ treatment of Jesus robe, curses him and the whole Roman Empire and runs away with the robe.

Marcellus continues to be tormented by nightmares and delusions regarding the crucifixion, and although still not believing in Jesus, is determined to find out more about the man he killed. He believes this is the only way to live with himself.

NOTABLE: The Robe won two Oscar’s: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color, and Best Costume Design, Color. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Richard Burton), and Best Cinematography, Color.

This motion picture was the first released in widescreen CinemaScope and required a curved screen for viewing. Not all theaters were equipped for this and a second was produced in the standard screen ratio.

The role of Marcellus was first offered to Tyrone Power, who chose instead to perform in the Broadway play “John Brown’s Body.” This proved to be a poor choice as the play was not a hit and closed after only 65 performances.

Although he was nominated for an Oscar, Richard Burton has said that this was his least favorite of all his films.

It has been rumored that actor Stewart Granger once threatened Richard Burton with a gun believing Burton to be having an affair with his wife Jean Simmons during filming.

Personal Note: The 1950’s produced a number of what were considered Biblical epics, or grand scale films about Jesus or other religious figures. They include Quo Vadis (1951), The Ten Commandments (1956, my personal favorite), and Ben Hur (1959).

The Desert Rats

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Released - May, 1953  The Desert Rats The Desert Rats

Directed By - Robert Wise

Starring – Richard Burton (Capt. ‘Tammy’ MacRoberts), James Mason (Field Marshal Erwin von Rommel), Robert Newton (Tom Bartlett).

Description – They crawled their way across the blazing sands of Africa …to turn disaster into victory!

Africa, 1941, German Field Marshall Erwin von Rommel and his Afrika Korps have driven the British Army across Africa toward the Suez Canal. Only one thing may stand in the way of his success; the port city of Tobruk. Rommel must control Tobruk in order to insure his supply lines.

Defending the port will be the 9th Australian Division under the command of English Capt. ‘Tammy’ MacRoberts. The tension is immediate as the inexperienced Australian troops must deal with the no no-nsense commander. Their mission is to hold the port for two months when they will be relieved.

With the help of a desert sandstorm the group is able to repel the first attack by the Germans; however, the situation is desperate. With the German Army moving up a large amount of artillery another attack is imminent. One they may not be able to defend.

MacRoberts decides to use some abandoned trucks to help blow up the artillery ammunition dump. His plan works, but he is captured and brought to Rommel.

While transporting MacRoberts and the other prisoners the Germans are attacked by British fighter aircraft. This allows MacRoberts and one of his men to escape. They barely get across the desert and back to their men.

The Austrailian’s have now been holding Tobruk, not for two months, but for eight. Word finally comes that help is on the way, but not before the embattled group is given another seemingly impossible mission.

NOTABLE: The Desert Rats received one Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.

In 1951, James Mason also portrayed Field Marshal Rommel in the film The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel.