Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Alexander the GreatStarring: Richard Burton, Fredric March
Director: Robert Rossen
Format: Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen
Rated: NR
Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
DVD Release Date: October 19, 2004
Run Time: 136

Richard Burton stars in Alexander the Great, a middling entry in the 1950s CinemaScope epic cycle. The film boasts excellent production values and a fine cast–including Frederic March, Claire Bloom, Harry Andrews, Stanley Baker, Peter Cushing, Michael Hordern–but rarely comes to life other than as a big fat ancient Greek wedding of the talents of Burton and Bloom. They strike real dramatic sparks together, so much so they would be reunited in Look Back in Anger (1958) and The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965). Otherwise the blame must be laid at the feet of writer-director-producer Robert Rossen, who never before or after helmed anything remotely on this scale; his best work would follow with the intimate The Hustler (1961). Rossen simply shows little sensibility for the epic, staging lavish but brief and rather pedestrian battles, and somehow drawing from the usually mesmerizing Burton a performance lacking the charisma essential to a great military commander. Burton fans can enjoy him at his epic best as Marc Anthony in Cleopatra (1963).

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