Cast & Crew
On February fourteenth, the Roman Senate welcomes Julius Caesar back from his military triumphs in Gaul, but while the citizens celebrate his return and plan to crown him king, Senate member Cassius tries to convince fellow senator Brutus that his friend Caesar has grown too ambitious and must be assassinated. Meanwhile, Caesar, instructing athlete Mark Antony to bring glory to Rome by winning his next race, ignores a soothsayer warning him to "beware the ides of March." One month later, Cassius tricks a still-reluctant Brutus into believing that the Roman citizens are fearful of Caesar's dominance and would prefer for Brutus himself to be king. That night, Caesar's wife Calpurnia dreams that the streets run with his blood, and warns him the next morning not to attend the Senate meeting. Although he initially humors her, he soon hears that he is to be crowned king at that day's meeting, and so dismisses her fears. As he enters the Senate, townsman Artemidorus and the soothsayer both exhort him not to go in, but he ingores their warnings as well. Inside, when Caesar banishes Cimber's brother and refuses to rescind his order, the Senate members close in on him. One by one, they stab him, until finally only Brutus remains. As Caesar falls into Brutus' arms, he asks, "Et tu, Brute?" and then dies. Triumphant, the Senators name Brutus their new leader and call Antony to witness Caesar's death. When he arrives, he is grief-striken by their act, but hides his anger to protect his own life. After shaking hands with each Senator, he asks only to be allowed to give Caesar a public burial, a request which Brutus grants, provided Antony will agree not to blame them in his eulogy. After the men leave, however, Antony kneels at Caesar's body and swears to avenge his murder, curse the Senators and create a war which will rage throughout the land. News of the murder spreads quickly to the townspeople, and as an angry mob forms, Brutus calms them by proclaiming that Caesar had to be killed for their own good. He threatens to kill himself for causing them pain, at which point they hail him. When it is Antony's time to speak, he praises the Senators outwardly, as promised, but at the same time subtly reviles them. He then reveals a will of Caesar's offering money to each citizen, and points out each stab mark in the great man's body. By the end of his speech, the mob has changed its loyalties to Antony, and disperses to attack the Senate traitors. They wreak havoc throughout the city and within weeks, war has broken out. Brutus' army stands outside the town of Philippi, where he and Cassius, who has brought his corruption into the armed forces, fight bitterly but reconcile, knowing they must not destroy their faction from within. When Brutus hears that Antony's army is headed toward Philippi, he ignores Cassius' advice that the army should take a defensive stance, and insists they meet Antony head on. After the strategy meeting, Caesar's ghost appears to Brutus and announces that he, too, will be at Philippi to meet his foes. Brutus and Cassius quickly realize during the battle that their army is doomed, after which Cassius orders his servant, Pindarus, to run him through with the same sword that killed Caesar. Later, Antony attacks again, wounding Brutus and then stalking him throughout the day. Finally, as night falls, Brutus asks his friends to kill him, then throws himself on his own sword, entreating Caesar's spirit to now be still. Antony finds Brutus's body at dawn, and eulogizes him by proclaiming that "This was a man."
Mary Sefton Darr
Carl J. Ross
Due to budget restraints, only one horse could be hired per day, hence a different colored horse was filmed each day, with footage cleverly montaged and edited to create the battle scenes.
Musical director Grant Fletcher hired Chas. W. Zornig 72 hours before the recording date, handing him a two-bar harmonic sketch by John Becker (II) and a shot list to work from. From this, Zornig produced a 32-page score, still copying parts for musicians as they arrived to record the score. Becker approached Zornig and asked him how he could read his two-bar sketch. Zornig replied "When I couldn't I just chose the most dissonant sounds," causing Becker to roar with laughter.
The orchestra which performed the score consisted of nine brass instruments plus timpani, and was recorded in an abandoned indoor swimming pool to create echo and a large sound.
Contrary to many published references, this was not a student film, although students were recruited from Northwestern University to work in bit parts and as extras.
The film's opening credits read: "William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar." The action is broken into two sections marked with titles reading: "The Murder of Caesar" and "The Revenge of Caesar." Julius Caesar was a 16mm independent film, originally produced for educational purposes. Producer/director/star David Bradley paid for part of the production himself, with additional funding provided by an Illinois film company, Avon Productions, Inc. and 16mm distributor Carl J. Ross, who did not distribute this film. Included in the cast was Lydia Clark, the wife of Charlton Heston, who played "Mark Antony."
Heston stated in his autobiography that only he and the film's photographer, Louis McMahon, were paid for their work on Julius Caesar, both earning $50 per week. The total cost of the film was reported in various contemporary sources as either $10,000, $11,000 or $15,000. Am Cin declared in May 1951 that, in order to save money, about 80 percent of the film was shot silently, with dialogue dubbed in later. Bradley wrote in a 1950 Sequence article that much of the dubbed-in sound was recorded in an empty swimming pool after midnight, to ensure that no street noises would interfere with the pool's superior accoustics. Other than one indoor set at Evanston, IL's Paragon Studios, all of the film's scenes were shot on location. Bradley used many Chicago landmarks which were built in Romanesque style, including Elk's Memorial, Rosenwald Museum, Soldier's Field, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Masonic Temple, Lake Michigan and the Field Museum, as backdrops. The battle of Philippi was shot in the sand dunes of Indiana and in New Jersey. According to Los Angeles Daily News, the film took six months to complete.
After its March 8, 1950 premiere in Lake Forest, IL, Julius Caesar was shown mainly in schools and in private industry screenings. The film did not have a widespread American release until after its November 24, 1952 New York City screening. Although a July 1951 Los Angeles Times article reported that the film might show in England before its New York screening and the Oakland Tribune stated in May 1953 that the film had already run commercially in England, an exact date for the UK premiere cannot be determined. The Sunday Times reported on August 26, 1951 that the film would run in the Edinburgh Film Festival. In July 1950, Los Angeles Daily News asserted that entrepreneur Joseph Burstyn had purchased the film and planned to transfer it to 35mm film. A November 1950 New York Times article stated that New York's Guffanti Laboratory was preparing 35mm prints for salesman Bertram H. Lefkowich to distribute in art theaters throughout the country. A handwritten note in the SAB, however, quotes Bradley as stating that, due to the poor quality of the 35mm prints, a 16mm print was used instead.
As a result of the favorable press and public reaction to the film, many of the players were hired to work in Hollywood studio films. Director Cecil B. DeMille was impressed with Heston, then under contract to producer Hal Wallis, and signed him for The Greatest Show on Earth, while Hank McKinnies, who made his debut in Julius Caesar as "First Citizen," was signed to a contract at Twentieth Century-Fox and had a long film career under the name of Jeffrey Hunter. M-G-M picked up David Bradley as a director, and at one point intended for him to remake a feature version of Julius Caesar.
Among the many film and television versions of Shakespeare's play are the first known filming, in France in 1907, and the 1953 M-G-M film of the same name, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Marlon Brando, Louis Calhern, Deborah Kerr, Greer Garson, John Geilgud and James Mason.