Friday, January 23, 2015

An Honourable Murder: A Derivative of Julius Caesar

An Honourable Murder. Dir. Godfrey Grayson. Perf. Norman Wooland, Margaretta Scott, and Lisa Daniely. 1960. DVD. Danziger Productions, 2010.

I'm always pleased when I discover a derivative film version of a play that is less-often made into derivative versions. One example is The Street King, a derivative version of Richard III (for which, q.v.). I'm still waiting and hoping for a derivative version of Henry V—one set, perhaps, in Vietnam under French Colonial Rule. You wouldn't even need to change the name of the enemy! But I digress.

Encountering a disparaging remark against it, I recently learned about An Honourable Murder, a 1960 film that recontextualizes Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in the business world. A business mogul named Julian Caesar—the Chair of the Board of Empire Petroleum—has been working hard for a merger with Pompey Shipping, but his motives become suspect, and Brutus Smith is reluctantly convinced to join in a vote against him at a meeting that Mark Antony has been tricked into missing.

The disparaging remark was about the film's lack of significance. No, it's not as earth-shaking as the assassination of Julius Caesar, but if it's approached more in terms of a domestic tragedy and as a business rather than a political thriller, the film will provide some interest.

To give a flavour of the film, I've excerpted the analogue of the assassination scene below:

And I don't suppose I can provide that scene without providing the debate before the citizens (here, shareholders) over Caesar's removal:

I found the film compelling but not thrilling. Perhaps it can serve as an entrée en matière for the business majors in my Shakespeare and Film class.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click here to purchase the film from
(it's only available as a Region 2 DVD).

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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