Cleopatra (1963)

0
1
Subscribe to Elizabeth Taylor alerts

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Box Office Worldwide: $57M

Budget: $42M

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, MCL Films S.A., Walwa Films S.A.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Producer:

Starring: Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Richard Burton as Marcus Antonius, Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar, Roddy McDowall as Octavian - Caesar Augustus, Martin Landau as Rufio, Hume Cronyn as Sosigenes, Andrew Keir as Agrippa, Kenneth Haigh as Brutus, George Cole as Flavius, Pamela Brown as High Priestess, Francesca Annis as Eiras, Grégoire Aslan as Pothinus (as Gregoire Aslan), John Doucette as Achillas, Michael Hordern as Cicero, John Hoyt as Cassius, Carroll O'Connor as Casca, Andrew Faulds as Canidius, Michael Gwynn as Cimber, Peter Grant as Palace Guard (uncredited), Michael Hordern as Cicero, John Hoyt as Cassius, Marne Maitland as Euphranor, Carroll O'Connor as Casca, Richard O'Sullivan as Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII, Gwen Watford as Calpurnia, Douglas Wilmer as Decimus

Cleopatra (1963) Movie Review


It is virtually impossible to separate Cleopatra the movie from Cleopatra the spectacle -- and that's because they are truly and rarely intertwined.

A legend of Hollywood, the 1963 production of Cleopatra has so much curiosity surrounding it I hardly know where to start. It was budgeted at $2 million and eventually cost (up to) $44 million to produce -- close to $300 million in today's dollars. Liz Taylor almost died during the filming and was given a tracheotomy to keep her alive. The production was forced to move from Rome to London and back to Rome again. Two of its stars fell in love (Taylor and Burton) on the set, ruining both of their marriages. 20th Century Fox essentially went bankrupt, leading to the ousting of its chief. The first director was fired after burning $7 million with nothing to show for it. The second director (Mankiewicz) was fired during editing, only to be rehired when no one else could finish the picture. Taylor threw up the first time she saw the finished product. Producer Walter Wanger never worked in Hollywood again. And the original six-hour epic was cut to a little over three.

The first American cut -- a bit over four hours -- is finally released on DVD, an exhaustive three-disc set that provides as much information about the movie as you could possibly want... at least until they unearth the rest of those hours of footage for an eventual Ultimate Edition of Cleopatra, I'm sure.

But enough of the gossip -- the movie itself is hardly the best film ever made. Its first half, tracing Cleopatra's dealings with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison), dealings which ultimately lead to his downfall, is a great bit of cinema. It's a tight 1:50 and tells a powerful tale of greed for power and duplicity in politics. On the famed Ides of March, Caesar gets his comeuppance, and Mark Antony (Richart Burton) becomes the focus of the film. His love affair with Cleo is a sick monstrosity, an inexplicable mess of gluttony and gaudiness that would make Tammy Faye Baker look underdressed amidst its splendor. Part II of Cleopatra is best left unseen, frankly, and even though the return of Cleopatra to Rome in a monumental procession is one of the centerpieces of grandiose filmmaking, there's just no story being told, at least not one worth watching. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that most of the movie was shot without a real script by a director receiving daily injections just to keep on working.... Better yet to skip over all this nonsense and head straight to Octavian's rule in I, Claudius.

Cleopatra ruined so many careers it's amazing that it's still remembered mostly fondly by Hollywood insiders and movie fans. The two-hour documentary (produced in 2000) included on disc three of the DVD is actually far better than the actual film, laying out every gory detail of Cleopatra's reign. It's asp-tastic.

Snake charmer.


Contactmusic

0
1
Subscribe to Elizabeth Taylor alerts

Comments

Jobrien3777's picture

Jobrien3777

F*** U!!! Ur f***ing stupid This was the best movies EVER. Richard Zanuck was just the idiot who tore it apart.

7 years 2 months ago
Report
View Comments

Cleopatra (1963) Rating

" Weak "

Advertisement

More Elizabeth Taylor

Laura Marling - Short Movie Video

Laura Marling has now launched the title track for her forthcoming new album 'Short Movie' alongside a colourful animated equine video. The record co-produced by...

Pond - Sitting Up On Our Crane Video

Tame Impala side-project Pond unveil a psychedelic graphics laden video for their new track 'Sitting Up On Our Crane', taken from their forthcoming new album...

Wolf Alice - Giant Peach (Live) Video

Recently nominated for BBC's Sound of 2015, Wolf Alice perform an intimate rendition of their new track 'Giant Peach'. The band are currently working on...

Owl City - Kiss Me Babe, It's Christmas Time (Audio) Video

Getting into the festive spirit is Owl City, whose fun new single 'Kiss Me Babe, It's Christmas Time' has now been made available ahead of...

Advertisement

Wolf Alice - Interview Video

One half of London quartet Wolf Alice discuss their recent tour, their excitement for 2015 and a possible album release. They also unveil their favourite...

The Loft Trailer

Five married friends decide to buy a loft together, and each owned a key, but no one else did. The men use the loft as...

Far From The Madding Crowd Trailer

Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is a beautiful young, yet poor woman. After saving the life of a young farmer, he falls utterly in love with...

Paul McCartney - The Daily Show Clips Video

Paul McCartney recently unveiled a new single, entitled 'Hope', to go alongside the release of brand new video shooter game 'Destiny'. However, while promoting the...

Advertisement