Someday, someone is going to make a great film about Alexander. Writer/director Robert Rossen took a crack at it in the mid-1950's, an era of epic films. The result was interesting but ultimately disappointing. Perhaps Rossen tried to squeeze too much into a standard running time. Some scenes, usually the historic ones, seem rushed and truncated while others, the fictionalised ones, seem superfluous. Visually, the film is quite good. In fact, it is one of those films where the stills are more impressive than the actual scenes.
But Rossen obviously wanted to make an "intelligent" epic. Some of the script and casting reflect that. The supporting cast has a number of respected British thesps -Claire Bloom, Harry Andrews, Peter Cushing, Michael Hordern, Stanley Baker. But there are also a lot of Italians whose dialogue is dubbed by those same two guys who did all the film dubbing in the 1950's. One can only wonder who chose Fredric March (hammy as ever) as Philip of Macedon or Danielle Darrieux (who apparently had only one facial expression) as his mischievous queen.
But the critical casting was Richard Burton as Alexander. He certainly looks the part, despite the blonde hair. But he frequently suffers from his career-long inability to adapt his stage-acting technique to the more intimate demands of cinema. Or maybe that's how he thought a wannabe god should behave. You sit there praying for him to lighten up - just a little.
For the rest, the many battle scenes tend to be confusing rather than spectacular, the uncertain pace suggests a lot of pre-release cuts were made, and the music not only sounds primitive but seems to have been recorded in somebody's basement. Still, the film is an interesting failure. But you end up admiring its ambitions more than its results.