The Robe

1953, Movie, NR, 135 mins


Fighting for fashion, in widescreen no less. A heavy Biblical dirge, bulging with blandfilmitis bigbudgetitis, THE ROBE was the first film in CinemaScope, Hollywood's answer to the threat of TV. Audiences (primarily Catholic schoolchildren dragged kicking and screaming by their teachers) dutifully poured into theaters to watch orgy-weary Roman officer turned luminous Christian Richard Burton (very stiff in a part he considered prissy and silly) and his equally shiny and suffering co-star Jean Simmons (who deserves better) fight for a bolt of cloth that J.C. (and we don't mean Joan Crawford) wore before his death. Their opponent is evil emperor Caligula (Jay Robinson, in a flamboyant camp classic performance that must be seen to be believed). Luckily, Dick and Jean, who have an unfortunate date with death, have Demetrius (the Mature Vic, giving the film's best performance) on their side. He rescues the rumpled but revered wrap just in time to tote it with him to the sequel, DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS, where he must face a more dangerous lioness than any Caligula ever kept penned up: Susie Hayward. Stick with THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, or try watching FELLINI SATYRICON instead. leave a comment

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