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Monday, May 23, 2016

Alexander The Great (1956)

Living in the shadow of his father (Fredric March), the young Alexander (Richard Burton) is torn between his love for his mother (Danielle Darrieux) and proving to his father that he is a worthy heir. When offered the role of Alexander in this film, Charlton Heston turned it down reputedly saying, "Alexander is the easiest kind of picture to make badly". This is a noble attempt but the film was taken away from its director Robert Rossen (ALL THE KING'S MEN) by the producers and cut by an hour. This is problematic among other things in that there is a plethora of supporting characters and we're never quite sure who they are in relation to Alexander. The film is of interest as long as it concentrates on the family dynamics of the rivalry of Alexander's parents as each uses him as pawn for their own political purpose. But once March exits the picture, it becomes just another stodgy epic. Burton provides the kind of overacting he thinks such epics deserve, his performance here similar to his work in THE ROBE and CLEOPATRA. Normally, Fredric March is more than happy to chew the scenery too but he's actually quite good here. All in all, one of the weaker Hollywood epics of the 1950s. With Claire Bloom (terribly wasted), Stanley Baker, Harry Andrews, Peter Cushing, Niall MacGinnis, Michael Hordern, Peter Wyngarde and Gustavo Rojo. 

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