One of the best things about this epic based on Alexander the Great is watching and listening to Richard Burton ply his magnificent craft. He was 29 at the time this film was made, and his resonant voice is remarkable, and one of the most unique sounds to be heard in the cinema. He is unfortunately wearing in a strawberry blonde wig that has so much spray on it, it could be made of plastic, but otherwise makes a marvelous Alexander, in one of his rare appearances in a "ancient costume epic", others being "The Robe" and the infamous "Cleopatra".
Written, directed and produced by Robert Rossen, it has some excellent dialogue, overall fine acting, and of course, battle sequences with 1001 extras. There is also quite a bit of "beefcake", but not many who are ready for the bare chest exposure, including Burton, whose abs are almost absent, and many of the extras are flabby and rotund, and hard to imagine are warriors.
Shot on location in Spain, the cinematography by Robert Krasner, in typical '50s vibrant Technicolor, is wonderful. Claire Bloom is beautiful as Barsine, a dark and hairy, savage and quite unrecognizable Frederick March is terrific as Philip of Macedon, Harry Andrews is a good Darius, and Danielle Darrieux is Alexander's crafty mother. Others of note in the cast are Stanley Baker as Attalus, and Peter Cushing as Memnon.
Though flawed, this is a film that can be viewed repeatedly, for its well written scenes, Burton's acting, and a smattering of history as well, which though condensed and altered to fit the Hollywood format, has some basis in truth; it is also fascinating to note that if one listens carefully, one will hear things reminiscent of recent news stories; history seems to be a wheel that is ever turning, and for the brief time that Alexander was in power, he would say "The world is my domain, and it is my mission is to rule it and rebuild it".
Total running time is 136 minutes, and the DVD extra is the original theatrical trailer.