The Robe - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Robe Reviews

Page 1 of 11
Super Reviewer
March 20, 2015
A stunning visual spectacle that should only be remembered for being the first CinemaScope film ever released, since the direction is clunky, the plot overlong and terribly contrived (the character's conversion is never convincing) and the dialogue so full of highs and lows.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
August 26, 2014
Behold, people, a film so epic in scale that it introduced CinemaScope, which would be awesome, you know, if this film actually won Best Cinematography, probably because the Academy Awards didn't think that such a process fit for a film like this. I can't believe that, because when I think of an exciting, sweeping epic, I think of it being about some kind of a robe. I joke, but this biblical epic is just about the dude who has Jesus crucified, and Mel Gibson managed to get out the full story of Jesus' torture under the two-hour mark that this film passed by a quarter of an hour. This may be much, much older than "The Passion of the Christ", but this is still that to the extreme, even when it comes to demonizing the Jews, because the Roman military tribune who had his men bump off Christ was hanging out with everyone's favorite Jewish demon. Man, I shouldn't even think about cracking that kind of cheesy, Gene or Jean Simmons joke, because this "Jean" Simmons was beautiful, kind of in an Elizabeth Taylor fashion, which I suppose means that Richard Burton had a particular, solid taste well before he score Cleopatra. Speaking of Burton, forget the Jews, because this film really looks bad for atheists, as I can see some Bible thumper saying that the most inaccurate thing in this (Snicker, snicker) Biblical drama is Burton's character feeling guilty about killing Christ. I'm not even slightly close to being a Christian in Alabama, so maybe I'm not the person you should be listening to, but I thought that this movie was good, although it stands to be tighter, or at least fresher.

One has to question just how formulaic this epic Roman drama is, because the formula was still fresh by the time this film came along, establishing certain tropes that would be shamelessly slammed into by future epics of this type time and again, and yet, outside of what would go on to become conventions, this film does most of what you'd expect, with a predictable narrative, storytelling style, dialogue, and, for that matter, portrayal of Ancient Rome. This film, like others of its nature and era, gets a little bit carried away with its contrived, simplified portrayal of Ancient Rome, with sophisticated, but near-cheesily overblown dialogue, and character types. I don't know how thin these characters are, as they are rich historical figures and are very often very well-portrayed, but there is something lacking about the expository aspects of Philip Dunne's, Gina Kaus' and Albert Maltz's script, which pays little mind to secondary characters, and isn't even all that layered with the leads, who, to a lesser extent, join most all other characters in supplementing a sense of melodrama. The film even gets manipulative with its portrayal of history and historical figures, so it should come as no surprise that nearly all dramatic elements of this epic, while generally well-portrayed through solid direction and acting, are riddled with cloying histrionics, which are at their worst during the flat romantic segments headed by Richard Burton and the lovely Jean Simmons, but found to some extreme throughout the final product, trying too hard to salvage a resonance that would be better off if the writing conformed to the subtlety of Henry Koster's direction. Well, Koster's direction is far from consistently subtle, or at least graceful in its subtlety, for there are times in which thoughtfulness leads to a blandness that is among the last things a film this problematically written needs, but cannot avoid, due to limp touches to the - you guessed it - writing, which I was expecting to be tighter in this ambitious epic of only about 135 minutes. Momentum is sound more often than not, but when it drags, it limps, and not just under the weight of questionable pacing, for one's investment faces other challenges through all of the conventions and cheesiness which threaten the final product. It does come down to the script, which is so flawed, and fitting for a lesser film, one that isn't rewarding inspired in most every other department, including the musical one.

The awards made some questionable decisions when it came to recognizing this film, and among the most questionable, in my opinion, was a lack of recognition for the score by the great Alfred Newman, who hit some conventions and contrivances, but did what he did best by breaking down a lot of barriers for epic scoring sensibilities at the time to come up with refreshing and stellar compositions whose symphonic beauty is remarkable by its own right, and important in the selling of the sweep of this film. More important in that department is the debut of a CinemaScope visual style, which cinematographer Leon Shamroy anchors through often hauntingly precise coloration and lighting, in addition to a tight scope which is intimate and grand enough to immerse you into George Davis' and Lyle R. Wheeler's Oscar-winning art direction, which is immersive enough by its own right, utilizing Paul S. Fox's and Walter M. Scott's impeccable set decoration and Charles LeMaire's and Emile Santiago's costume designs to restore the look of Ancient Rome - from its high society to simple villages - lavishly. When it comes to aesthetic and production value, this film is a triumph, almost a masterpiece, at least for its time, remaining, to this day, a marvel whose style and technical proficiency compliment entertainment value and immerse you into a distinguished world and story. It may not be especially unique, even in concept, and its scripted interpretation may be a mess of contrivances and fat around the edges, but this story is a thoroughly intriguing one, which juggles epic sweep with rich intimacy as a study on the man behind Christ's crucifixion's coming to embrace the sacred man he killed through a guilt which drives him into dangerous circumstances, thus, there is a rewarding potential that would have been lost if it wasn't for Henry Koster. Koster's efforts are themselves contrived and superficial in a lot of places, and when they're not, their subtlety is somewhat blanding, although that reflects a delicacy that isn't in the overblown script, and is focused enough to orchestrate style into frequent entertainment value, and to draw biting dramatic tension and resonance through taste and a celebration of onscreen talent. Now, a lot of the performances don't help a sense of melodrama, for a number of supporting performances fall flat, but the leads nevertheless deliver as best they can, whether it be Victor Mature as a struggling, but wise slave who holds passion and fury over the demise of a great man, or leading man Richard Burton as a militant man of admiration, love, and guilt, which Burton sells through an impassioned and layered performance. By no means can I promise that everyone will embrace this film, as its script is so problematic, and its strengths aren't particularly upstanding, but their subtle impact goes a long way in overcoming shortcomings through quality aesthetic and dramatic value which make this a worthy epic.

All in all, the film is plenty conventional, even in a portrayal of Ancient Rome that is about as thin as a lot of the characterization, and as contrived as the melodramatics which slow down the impact of momentum almost as much as dull and draggy spells, thus making for a script whose shortcomings are challenged well enough by a powerful score, immersively beautiful visual style, solid direction, and strong lead acting for Henry Koster's "The Robe" to stand as an adequately rewarding and very intriguing study on the impact Christ had even on those who brought about his demise.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2014
The often forgotten Biblical tale, The Robe is a "sequel" to the Passion and Richard Burton proves that he can easily out-Heston Heston in the story of a redeemed man.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
July 21, 2013
35 percent on the tomato meter? You seriously got to be kidding me...I honestly felt "The Robe" was a fascinating picture and a great performance by Richard Burton. It's a spiritual picture tracing back to the days of the Romans to the crucifixon of Jesus. There is hardly any religious films made today but films like "The Robe" made me appreciate sprituality more. The Burton character is a man with authority who is true to the Roman Empire, buys and befriends a dangerous slave, wins Jesus robe in a dice game then becomes ill in the mind, gradually changes from a non believer to a born again Christian. I wish the film industry made more biblical pictures today. A film like "The Robe" which was the first shown in CinemaScope should not be forgotten.

*Jay Robinson was great as the vile tyrant Caligula
constanzaboutter
Super Reviewer
½ March 20, 2009
The Robe is best remembered historically important as the first movie shot in Cinemascope. Grand and sweeping, the mere spectacle is enough to make it worth seeing, and helped usher in more than a decade's worth of lavish Biblical epics.
FanadFilmsProduction
Super Reviewer
½ May 5, 2007
When I first saw this film, I loved it. It was a perennial and I could not wait for Easter time to see it.

Of course, in retrospect, as I drifted away from the Church, the film began to take on a silliness. I still like it, but not as much.
February 6, 2013
Historically important as the first CinemaScope feature film, 20th Century-Fox's The Robe is fine dramatic entertainment in its own right.
August 19, 2008
One of the greatest classical Bible movies ever. It is a true cinematic masterpiece in every sense of the word.
½ January 31, 2008
I saw this long time ago when I was a little girl and was moved so much I remember crying. I just finished watching it and it had the same effect as then. A timeless wonder piece and a something to really think about...
May 13, 2007
A good look into before christ's crucifixation. I loved the acting and scenery. A must see for the whole family
January 4, 2007
A touching story, with a gorgeous Richard Burton (who is also one of the best actors) playing the lead. He and Jean Simmons make a perfect match.

The story is a perfect example of standing up for your faith! All Christians should see this movie!
September 9, 2015
wow, Richard Burton in '53. And Richard Boone as Pilate! I think i was taken to see this when young.
June 18, 2015
A great story. It's about the life of the Roman Soldier who won the Robe of Jesus upon his death. If you enjoy The Ten Commandments or Cleopatra, then this is right up your alley. The plot is very similar to Avatar, except this has some actual weight behind it.

The action scenes are few and far between, but they have actual weight and consequence behind them.

I believe this was one of the first films stop in Cinemascope, and it looks great. The settings, wardrobe, the million extras, fill the wondrous landscape.

Women will probably not like this film because his girlfriend is THE MOST loyal woman to ever be on screen. She converts to Christianity at the last second even though it will mean her death, simply because she knows she can't live without her boyfriend. Other than that, it's quite enjoyable.

While it may not be as entertaining as Ben-Hur, The Robe delves into the psychological torment of guilt, honor and redemption.
½ December 25, 2013
Entertaining and gran Biblical epic.
January 10, 2015
bogged down by its run time
½ December 22, 2014
This is one of those films that has an interesting premise, but unfortunately squanders its potential. In this regard, the main problem is that The Robe suffers an unfortunate cliché of historical epics - it takes too long to get to focus on the main point of the film. The premise revolves around a Roman military tribune who wins Jesus' robe and is haunted by nightmares of his crucifixion. Unfortunately, it takes approximately 30 minutes to get that far. The first 40 minutes are fixated on the scope and might of Rome, and you can only magnify Rome for so long before it becomes pretentious. The performances are actually quite decent, and in a way, they help give the film some semblance of life, but sometimes, the high tone of the performances can overstay its welcome, perhaps because the actors aren't charismatic enough to generate truly moving performances. It's such a shame that a film with a genuinely interesting premise couldn't live up to its potential, and because of that, we get a by-the-numbers Roman epic with all the trimmings, but without the charm.
October 25, 2014
This movie may be 61 years old but this first widescreen movie entertaines you with awesome acting,sets,costumes,cinematography,and beautiful horses especially the white ones i am now looking forward to seeing Demetrius and the Gladiators its sequel.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
August 26, 2014
Behold, people, a film so epic in scale that it introduced CinemaScope, which would be awesome, you know, if this film actually won Best Cinematography, probably because the Academy Awards didn't think that such a process fit for a film like this. I can't believe that, because when I think of an exciting, sweeping epic, I think of it being about some kind of a robe. I joke, but this biblical epic is just about the dude who has Jesus crucified, and Mel Gibson managed to get out the full story of Jesus' torture under the two-hour mark that this film passed by a quarter of an hour. This may be much, much older than "The Passion of the Christ", but this is still that to the extreme, even when it comes to demonizing the Jews, because the Roman military tribune who had his men bump off Christ was hanging out with everyone's favorite Jewish demon. Man, I shouldn't even think about cracking that kind of cheesy, Gene or Jean Simmons joke, because this "Jean" Simmons was beautiful, kind of in an Elizabeth Taylor fashion, which I suppose means that Richard Burton had a particular, solid taste well before he score Cleopatra. Speaking of Burton, forget the Jews, because this film really looks bad for atheists, as I can see some Bible thumper saying that the most inaccurate thing in this (Snicker, snicker) Biblical drama is Burton's character feeling guilty about killing Christ. I'm not even slightly close to being a Christian in Alabama, so maybe I'm not the person you should be listening to, but I thought that this movie was good, although it stands to be tighter, or at least fresher.

One has to question just how formulaic this epic Roman drama is, because the formula was still fresh by the time this film came along, establishing certain tropes that would be shamelessly slammed into by future epics of this type time and again, and yet, outside of what would go on to become conventions, this film does most of what you'd expect, with a predictable narrative, storytelling style, dialogue, and, for that matter, portrayal of Ancient Rome. This film, like others of its nature and era, gets a little bit carried away with its contrived, simplified portrayal of Ancient Rome, with sophisticated, but near-cheesily overblown dialogue, and character types. I don't know how thin these characters are, as they are rich historical figures and are very often very well-portrayed, but there is something lacking about the expository aspects of Philip Dunne's, Gina Kaus' and Albert Maltz's script, which pays little mind to secondary characters, and isn't even all that layered with the leads, who, to a lesser extent, join most all other characters in supplementing a sense of melodrama. The film even gets manipulative with its portrayal of history and historical figures, so it should come as no surprise that nearly all dramatic elements of this epic, while generally well-portrayed through solid direction and acting, are riddled with cloying histrionics, which are at their worst during the flat romantic segments headed by Richard Burton and the lovely Jean Simmons, but found to some extreme throughout the final product, trying too hard to salvage a resonance that would be better off if the writing conformed to the subtlety of Henry Koster's direction. Well, Koster's direction is far from consistently subtle, or at least graceful in its subtlety, for there are times in which thoughtfulness leads to a blandness that is among the last things a film this problematically written needs, but cannot avoid, due to limp touches to the - you guessed it - writing, which I was expecting to be tighter in this ambitious epic of only about 135 minutes. Momentum is sound more often than not, but when it drags, it limps, and not just under the weight of questionable pacing, for one's investment faces other challenges through all of the conventions and cheesiness which threaten the final product. It does come down to the script, which is so flawed, and fitting for a lesser film, one that isn't rewarding inspired in most every other department, including the musical one.

The awards made some questionable decisions when it came to recognizing this film, and among the most questionable, in my opinion, was a lack of recognition for the score by the great Alfred Newman, who hit some conventions and contrivances, but did what he did best by breaking down a lot of barriers for epic scoring sensibilities at the time to come up with refreshing and stellar compositions whose symphonic beauty is remarkable by its own right, and important in the selling of the sweep of this film. More important in that department is the debut of a CinemaScope visual style, which cinematographer Leon Shamroy anchors through often hauntingly precise coloration and lighting, in addition to a tight scope which is intimate and grand enough to immerse you into George Davis' and Lyle R. Wheeler's Oscar-winning art direction, which is immersive enough by its own right, utilizing Paul S. Fox's and Walter M. Scott's impeccable set decoration and Charles LeMaire's and Emile Santiago's costume designs to restore the look of Ancient Rome - from its high society to simple villages - lavishly. When it comes to aesthetic and production value, this film is a triumph, almost a masterpiece, at least for its time, remaining, to this day, a marvel whose style and technical proficiency compliment entertainment value and immerse you into a distinguished world and story. It may not be especially unique, even in concept, and its scripted interpretation may be a mess of contrivances and fat around the edges, but this story is a thoroughly intriguing one, which juggles epic sweep with rich intimacy as a study on the man behind Christ's crucifixion's coming to embrace the sacred man he killed through a guilt which drives him into dangerous circumstances, thus, there is a rewarding potential that would have been lost if it wasn't for Henry Koster. Koster's efforts are themselves contrived and superficial in a lot of places, and when they're not, their subtlety is somewhat blanding, although that reflects a delicacy that isn't in the overblown script, and is focused enough to orchestrate style into frequent entertainment value, and to draw biting dramatic tension and resonance through taste and a celebration of onscreen talent. Now, a lot of the performances don't help a sense of melodrama, for a number of supporting performances fall flat, but the leads nevertheless deliver as best they can, whether it be Victor Mature as a struggling, but wise slave who holds passion and fury over the demise of a great man, or leading man Richard Burton as a militant man of admiration, love, and guilt, which Burton sells through an impassioned and layered performance. By no means can I promise that everyone will embrace this film, as its script is so problematic, and its strengths aren't particularly upstanding, but their subtle impact goes a long way in overcoming shortcomings through quality aesthetic and dramatic value which make this a worthy epic.

All in all, the film is plenty conventional, even in a portrayal of Ancient Rome that is about as thin as a lot of the characterization, and as contrived as the melodramatics which slow down the impact of momentum almost as much as dull and draggy spells, thus making for a script whose shortcomings are challenged well enough by a powerful score, immersively beautiful visual style, solid direction, and strong lead acting for Henry Koster's "The Robe" to stand as an adequately rewarding and very intriguing study on the impact Christ had even on those who brought about his demise.

3/5 - Good
July 1, 2014
A ridiculous and overlong biblical tale.
January 12, 2014
The Robe is an interesting, slightly schmaltzy, partly flawed, and engaging biblical epic. While the story needs some work and the film can be a little too cheesy, it works quite well due to solid acting, stunning set pieces, great music, and its flair for the dramatic. It's certainly a hell of a lot better than a lot of other religious-themed films because it is well made and very entertaining for the most part. While it's certainly not the best religious flick I've seen, it's still a great epic for anyone who enjoys watching epics since it comes with the usual stuff that an epic should: a sweeping story, good acting, and plenty more.
Page 1 of 11