A Roman soldier converts to Christianity and leads a revolution
after succumbing to his guilt over crucifying Jesus of Nazareth.
The Robe (1953)
Directed by Henry Koster
Written by Philip Dunne, Gina Kaus, Albert Maltz
Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature,
Michael Rennie, Jay Robinson, Torin Thatcher, Betta St. John
Based on the novel by Lloyd C. Douglas
Oscar Wins - Best Art Direction, Best Costume Designer
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Richard Burton),
Biblical epics were all the rage in the 50's, mostly because they were the most elaborate and adventurous stories Hollywood could tell without getting reprimanded and cancelled by the Hays Code. Personally, I think the bar has been set by The Ten Commandments, at least looking back. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have a film like The Robe, which tells the story of Christ in the most boring, inoffensive way possible. I think it's a weird rule that they could never show Jesus's face. Maybe they thought He wouldn't approve of this garbage movie.
Richard Burton (who was an atheist and hated this movie) plays Roman tribune Marcellus Gallio, the Roman soldier who actually gives the order to crucify Jesus Christ. But then he feels guilty, and believes that the robe Jesus was wearing at the time has bewitched him. Gallio's slave Demetrius (Mature) takes the robe as a symbol of Christ, but Gallio can't stop feeling the guilt. He seeks out Demetrius and becomes a Christian, then tries to rebel against the Roman emperor Caligula (Robinson). Between these big revelations is a ton of nothing. It's remarkably boring. You can tell by how little Burton cared about his performance. Somehow, he still nabbed an Oscar nomination out of it. The only memorable scene is when Diana (Simmons) just lays into Caligula, calling him the 50's equivalent of an incompetent, psychotic asshole.
The Robe has no place in that year's Best Picture nominees, but somehow it found its way there. The Academy loved biblical epics, probably because they all thought that God would shoot a lightning bolt up their asses if they voted against them. I see most of these movies as the cinematic equivalent of empty calories. Looks good, but has very little actual value.