Julius Caesar

I spent the day listening to speeches. It was in preparation for the spring semester. I came away with some useful information on how to apply for a full-time position, and I also too an extra sandwich from lunch so that I wouldn’t have to buy my usual California burrito. I took the bus back and browsed through the record store. Back at home, I watched “Julius Caesar,” the movie starring Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, James Mason as Brutus, and John Gielgud as Cassius. It struck me how quiet many of the scenes were, like in early sound movies. Marlon Brando proved that he could do Shakespeare. This was 19 years before “The Godfather.” I thought Brando was more impressive in other films, but he was a strong figure in addressing the crowd. He enjoyed stirring them up. The only James Mason movie I saw in original release while he was still alive was “The Verdict.” I remember him for “A Star is Born” and “Lolita.” The memory I have of John Gielgud was “Arthur.” The cast also included Edmond O’Brien, Greer Garson, and Deborah Kerr. You know that Cassius and Brutus are doomed once they kill Julius Caesar. The blood in the death scene looked fake, and I didn’t think he had the strength to say anything to Brutus. The director was Joseph L. Mankiewicz. I kept wondering what Orson Welles would have done with this play. Two of the best Shakespeare films were the Laurence Olivier films. Cassius and Brutus are assisted in their deaths, unlike Japanese hara-kiri. You can’t do the wrong thing, and Brutus was snared into doing the wrong thing. I don’t know what the rules are in the age of Trump, however. He seems so unpopular that his reign won’t last for very long. I don’t see those who want him impeached as very realistic. The characters in this movie seem to move uncomfortably in their costumes. I was reminded of a film in which Gielgud acted some Shakespeare scenes. He had an approach that felt artificial. The movie was in black and white, but I think it would have been a good movie in color. I’m thinking about something like Kubrick’s “Spartacus” when I say that. “Julius Caesar” was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. I liked the movie as a glimpse of what Brando was doing at the time, but the movie didn’t excite or inspire me. I thought about how a dead body and words from a will could provoke a crowd and thought it was chilling how millions of people in the modern age can be swayed by television or social media. There were familiar character actors in this movie, and I couldn’t place their names. I liked the film, although I would rather see “A Streetcar Named Desire” or “Mutiny on the Bounty” again. The DVD had an introduction by Robert Osborne. 1953 didn’t seem so distant when I was a kid, but it does seem like a long time ago now. It is 65 years, after all. I miss the actors of those years. Already, it’s been nearly 15 years since Brando died. I hadn’t seen Deborah Kerr in quite some time. I heard that the parents of those 13 children could do a lot of time in jail. It was rather funny how the kids were in that photograph wearing those Thing T-shirts. The parents renewed their marriage vows with an Elvis impersonator performing. The family seemed like they were having fun, except for the parts involving starvation, torture, and being shackled to furniture. I couldn’t understand how they didn’t make enough noise for neighbors to hear and do something. My music for the day was The Zombies. It was a CD that I had bought in the wake of Tom Petty’s death, and it was only now that I was getting around to listening to it. Some of the people who died on January 19 include James Dickey (1997), Carl Perkins (1998), Hedy Lamarr (2000), Tony Franciosa (2006), Wilson Pickett (2006), Suzanne Pleshette (2008), John Stewart (2008), and Miguel Ferrer (2017). Today is a birthday for Paul Rodriguez (63), Katey Sagal (64), Dolly Parton (72), Shelley Fabares (74), and Michael Crawford (76). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 19, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” reached Number One on the Billboard album chart in 1980. In 1990, “Tremors” was released.

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