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The Robe Review


Weak
The Biblical epic is one of the most tired of Hollywood genres. Instead of taking the Good Book for all its fire and brimstone brazenness, concentrating on all the death, sex, and betrayal involved, Hollywood goes strictly for the houses of the holy. Within the vacuous walls of this sanctimonious, self-righteous abode are enough high-minded false prophecies to make even the most dedicated Messiah balk. A good example of this is 1953's The Robe. Based on a best-selling novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, this oversized spectacle is noted as being the first film ever released in the fledgling Cinemascope format. It's also a highly cheesy bit of faith-based falderal that still manages to manipulate the audience into appreciating its preaching.

When he angers Caligula (Jay Robinson) by buying Demetrius (Victor Mature), a slave he had wanted, military officer Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton) is exiled to Jerusalem. There, he encounters talk of a new 'messiah' named Jesus. When Pilate condemns this well-meaning man, Marcellus is placed in charge of the crucifixion. After the deed, he wins Christ's robe in a dice game. A strange event involving the garment shakes Marcellus to his core, causing Demetrius to steal it and disappear. Returning to Rome, Marcellus is charged by Emperor Tiberius (Ernest Thesiger) to retrieve the shroud and destroy it. Starting his search in Galilee, our hero begins to learn the teachings of Jesus. After coming in contact with former disciple Peter (Michael Rennie), Marcellus repents and returns to Rome to spread the word and win back his former flame Diana (Jean Simmons). Naturally, he too is condemned.

Continue reading: The Robe Review

My Darling Clementine Review


Excellent
John Ford's 1946 classic My Darling Clementine is finally on DVD -- and it's the next best thing to watching a restored print on the big-screen. Ford, who died in 1973, began his career as a stuntman in D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation and went on to make Hollywood history as a world- renowned, movie-director icon. Everybody wanted to make movies as good as his. They still do.

He's also remembered as a patch-eyed, hard-drinking sentimentalist. He regularly chewed his handkerchief and, depressed from his binges, needed long recovery periods before being able to work. But his genius with moving images made his movies a part of our collective cinema psyches. This DVD gives us a chance to join Ford at his own level, where the sharp blacks and whites are as he originally intended, dialogue and plot are minor, and image means everything.

Continue reading: My Darling Clementine Review

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