Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Best Actor 1963: Rex Harrison in Cleopatra

 Rex Harrison received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Julius Caesar in Cleopatra.

Cleopatra has quite the reputation that precedes it, a reputation that it is a overlong, overblown mess, well that probably is accurate. My only question is why has Cleopatra been made into a film so many times, and at such cost, is it really all that great of a story?

Rex Harrison portrays Julius Caesar which is a good thing since he dies less than half was through this egregiously long film, that way when one reviewing him they do not have to burden themselves with the whole film more than once. Harrison although only in less than the first half is the lead when he is there, so his nomination position is technically correct. 

I think something quite clear about Harrison's performance is that he was rather miscast as Julius Caesar. He really is much too casual fellow to be the powerful commanding Caesar. Harrison does not adjust himself either he plays the part in a rather standard Harrison way, that is far more fitting of Professor Henry Higgins than the commander of Rome.

Harrison just really does not have the right command for the part, he does not suggest anything of why Caesar was a great leader, or why he became power hungry later on. He seems far too at ease with everything he does, there never is the right determination or strength in his portrayal to be at all convincing.

He really does not have any chemistry with Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra either. There is nothing special in their scenes together, and their whole romance just sort of occurs as a requirement of the plot more than anything else. Harrison really fails to display any passion in the scenes together he more of just goes through the motions of the romance rather than really getting involved with it.

I really do not think there is all that much that needs to be said about this performance. It really is quite a standard uninteresting performance, that never for a moment feels like the great commander of men. Harrison just is rather dull, and his entire approach to the part is dull. I will grant he does not wildly overact like so many other members of the cast, but still this is not a performance that needed to be nominated for anything.


Anonymous said...

The movie is just bad, looks good though.

joe burns said...

Probably fifth place!