Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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"Too modest" -- Elinor Dashwood

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"You are my sire. You give me confidence to speak. You raise my heart so high that I am no more I." -- Dante

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Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008
Charlton Heston, 1923-2008

Everyone knows about Moses, Ben-Hur, and the NRA; many know about his Cardinal Richelieu, the role that introduced fans to what he looked like with his shirt on. But few know that he was also dedicated to the stage, and to bringing Shakespeare to the movies.

His stage roles included Macbeth, Captain Queeg in his own production of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, and More in A Man for All Seasons.

Shakespeare-wise, he played Mark Antony in a 1970 Julius Caesar that was flawed but still worth watching. Heston himself was excellent, and John Gielgud (Cassius in the 1955 film) was awesome as Caesar. However, casting Jason Robards as Brutus when he was still recovering from the bottle, and pairing the utterly American Robards with a Cassius straight out of the RSC (the marvelously craggy Richard Johnson), was not a good idea. And the direction had a sort of faux-deMille quality that was already outdated by 1970. (Heston was not responsible for the casting or the direction, btw.) However, throw in Diana Rigg as Portia, Richard Chamberlain as Octavius, and Robert Vaughn as Casca, and I refuse to blame myself for having enjoyed it.

Next, concluding reasonably that Julius Caesar needed its sequel, Heston directed and starred in (and probably financed, truth be told) his own movie of Antony and Cleopatra, co-starring Hildegarde Neil -- but was unable to find a commercial distributor for it. It also featured Eric Porter as Enobarbus, and John Castle (Geoffrey in The Lion in Winter!) as Octavius Caesar.

Heston also did a star-cameo as the Player-King in Branagh's Hamlet.

He was also (like the recently-departed Paul Scofield) married to one woman for decades.

Here was a Caesar. When comes such another?