Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “The Robe”

(20th-Century Fox. 1953. 1 Disc. Color. Widescreen. 135 minutes. Not Rated. Directed by Henry Koster.) Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Michael Rennie, Jay Robinson, Dean Jagger, Torin Thatcher. Music by Alfred Newman.

Now, Fox, you know better! This movie was the first released in Fox’s heralded Cinemascope back in 1953 (although not the first filmed in that process — that honor went to the Marilyn Monroe vehicle How to Marry a Millionaire). This DVD was released in anamorphic widescreen (aspect radio 2.55:1), but not restored, meaning that the viewer picks up white and black specks, washed-out color in some scenes, bad contrast, etc. Still, it was interesting to see the young, not-yet-fully-formed Burton (just 28!) as the conflicted Roman tribune Marcellus, the beautiful Simmons (well-costumed) as his faithful Diana, the stony Mature as Demetrius the early Christian convert, the underplaying Rennie as Peter (yes, that Peter), and the over-the-top (but still enjoyable) Robinson as Emperor Caligula. Mature and Robinson return in the following year’s sequel, Demetrius and the Gladiators. The Robe deserves a better home video treatment…perhaps in high definition?

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