Julius Caesar

Shortly before Charlton Heston made his Hollywood debut in Dark City (1950), he played Mark Antony in this Chicago-shot independent feature—incredibly, the first-ever screen adaptation of the Shakespeare play. David Bradley, an heir to the Shedd family fortune and, like Heston, a graduate of Northwestern, made the film for a mere $15,000, shooting in 16-millimeter and taking advantage of the classical architecture at Soldier Field, the Field Museum, and the Masonic Temple Building. The postdubbed sound is a constant distraction, but otherwise the movie is remarkably effective, with striking compositions and boldly expressionistic moments: when Calpurnia dreams of Caesar’s murder, Bradley cuts from lightning streaking across the sky to close-ups of stone lions, Cassius stabs at the camera with his dagger as water runs past the lens, and blood drips down the face of a statue, snaking through the cracks in a cobblestone street.