Vintage: Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Vintage: Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

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Marlon Brando’s casting was met with some skepticism when it was announced, as he had acquired the nickname of “The Mumbler” following his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz even considered Paul Scofield for the role of Mark Antony if Brando’s screen test was unsuccessful. Brando asked John Gielgud for advice in declaiming Shakespeare, and adopted all of Gielgud’s recommendations. Brando’s performance turned out so well that the New York Times stated in its review of the film: “Happily, Mr. Brando’s diction, which has been guttural and slurred in previous films, is clear and precise in this instance. In him a major talent has emerged.” Brando was so dedicated in his performance during shooting that Gielgud offered to direct him in a stage production of Hamlet, a proposition that Brando seriously considered but ultimately turned down. During filming, James Mason became concerned that Brando was stealing the audience’s sympathy away from him and his character, Brutus, so Mason appealed to Mankiewicz, with whom he had bonded earlier while making the film 5 Fingers, requesting that the director stop Brando from dominating the film and “put the focus back where it belongs. Namely on me!” The subsequent shift in directorial attention didn’t escape Brando, who threatened to walk off the film if Mankiewicz “threw one more scene to Mason”, alleging a ménage à trois among Mankiewicz, Mason and Mason’s wife Pamela. Despite the feuding, production continued with only minimal disruption, thanks to what Gielgud called, “Mankiewicz’s consummate tact that kept us together as a working unit.”

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' (1953)

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’ (1953)


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