Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Epic That Never Was (1965)

Director: ???

Writer: Bill Duncalf

Starring: Dirk Bogarde, Robert Graves, Josef von Sternberg, Merle Oberon, Flora Robson, Emlyn Williams, John Abbott, Eileen Corbett, John Armstrong

More info: IMDb

Plot: The story of the aborted 1937 filming of "I, Claudius", starring Charles Laughton, with all of its surviving footage.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Oh, yeah.

Here's a fascinating look into a film that was never finished.  It's a good story as told by those still alive that were in front of and behind the camera 30 years prior.  One notable absence is Charles Laughton, who died five years earlier, but his presence is very much alive.  Some of the interviewees get overly dramatic in recounting their experiences and you get the impression that Laughton was even more a egotistic drama queen who was incredibly difficult to work with.  That may very well be true but there's no denying his genius as an actor.  The more I see of him the higher he places in the craft.  In this 70 minute TV documentary we get to see many clips from the film and they're brilliant.  What's more, Laughton delivers a monologue in final minutes of the film that had me emotionally enthralled.  Fortunately we viewers don't get to experience what actors go through to "find their character".  That probably couldn't be more true in this case.  Laughton struggled intensely with this role and everyone around him suffered for it.  But what we see from him that was shot, and it's a damn shame the film was never completed, is a remarkable performance that isn't to be missed, even in this truncated form. 

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