Released on September 16, 1953, The Robe is a Biblical epic of great length and width, stretching on for over two hours and stretching from one side of the theater to the other through the magic of CinemaScope. It was the first film presented in CinemaScope, 20th Century Fox’s high-class answer to the trendy vulgarity of 3-D.
The titular robe is the one worn by Jesus at the time of his crucifixion, and the film explores the answer to the question whatever happened to that robe, what happened to the drunken Roman tribune who won it in a dice game, who was that . . . all right, that’s more than one question, but it’s a long film.
Richard Burton is the drunk Roman tribune Marcellus who ends up possessing the robe and can’t seem to get rid of it. At one point, he tries to use it as a cover during a rainstorm and when he places it on his head, he begins to dance and shout. Different story. When he places it over his head, he gets to feeling all guilty about killing Jesus. He is also transformed into a Christian and begins turning the other cheek a lot. He is reunited with his childhood sweetheart Diana who is supposed to marry the evil Emperor Caligula in a plot thickener. In the dramatic Biblical conclusion, Diana rejects Caligula and Marcellus tries to trick him into touching the robe and thus turning into a Christian. Caligula isn’t fooled. He also has the last laugh, sentencing both Marcellus and Diana to death.. Demetrius goes on — oh, we failed to mention Demetrius. It’s a big wide screen and there’s a lot going on. Demetrius is a Greek slave played by Victor Mature who hasn’t been turned into a Christian yet, but probably will be during the sequel Demetrius and the Gladiators.
If He’d Only Had That Robe
Many centuries later (after the setting of the story not the release of the film), a noted cardinal and theologian who took his Christianity quite seriously rose to a position of power in Spain. Tomás de Torquemada became the Grand Inquisitor for the Spanish Inquisition, a sort of religious movement known more for conformity than tolerance.
Torquemada didn’t care for heresy, apostasy, sorcery, sodomy, polygamy, blasphemy, usury and most isms. He had little use for Jews or Moors. He was, however, a big fan of torture and burning at the stake, pastimes he enjoyed freely until Pope Alexander VI had him put on a leash in 1494. This may have precipitated his death four years later.
You would probably think Torquemada was not a particularly good subject for a musical. You’d be wrong.
Inspirational Quote for 9/16/16