The Best Old Movies On a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, March 11-17

03/11/2015 9:44 AM |

Christopher Plummer in Anthony Mann’s THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPI

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)
Directed by Anthony Mann
A “pitfalls of hubris” biopic could be made about Samuel Bronston, the Bessarabian nephew of Trotsky who was pathologically addicted to bringing unwieldy international megaproductions to the screen. This one’s failure bankrupted him, even though its spectacle is full of show-off sets, risk-taking acting (Christopher Plummer as Commodus especially) and never-better Ultra Panavision shot compositions and action business from Mann and DP Robert Krasker. The acres of extras in “Bronston City” (faux Rome) would be CGI now, and watching gives you the dual enjoyment of the political-personal intrigue (blacklisted Ben Barzman co-scripted) and the scale of the whole ridiculous effort. Per Martin Scorsese, the film “has the poignant beauty of a lost art, for this was the autumn of the great American epics.” Justin Stewart (Mar 14, 5:15pm at Anthology Film Archives’s “Screenwriters and the Blacklist: Before, During and After”)