In 48 BC, Cleopatra, facing palace revolt in her kingdom of Egypt, welcomes the arrival of Julius Caesar as a way of solidifying her power under Rome. When Caesar, whom she has led astray, is killed, she transfers her affections to Marc Antony and dazzles him on a barge full of DeMillean splendor. But the trick may not work a third time... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
For one moment in History, she is the world's most powerful woman. Devious, dangerous & entrancingly beautiful, she controls a kingdom while swaying an empire. She is Queen of the Nile. She is Egypt. She is CLEOPATRA.
Claudette Colbert is perfectly cast in the title role - deadly & fascinating, it's almost like watching a desert viper act. Exhibiting mega star wattage in arguably her best role, Colbert is one of the legendary actresses who could hold her own without being swallowed by the lavish costumes & sets which fill her every scene.
This is not to say she runs away with the entire film, however. Her male co-stars more than hold their own. A much underrated actor, Henry Wilcoxon as Marc Antony is excellent & shows what he would have been capable of in other roles if given the chance. In what amounts to little more than a cameo, Joseph Schildkraut gives a malicious turn to Herod the Great. Warren William & Ian Keith as the two Caesars strive mightily with their characters and generally succeed. Irving Pichel is very effective in his understated role as Cleopatra's advisor. Wonderful old Sir C. Aubrey Smith gives his usual first-rate performance, this time as an elderly Roman general. Film mavens who listen carefully will hear the voice of John Carradine a time or two as a Roman extra.
Cecil B. DeMille generally liked to portray as much sin as possible, usually wrapped around a sermon. Here, in the sensuous barge scene, he simply opens the floodgates & lets his bad taste flow out - to the viewer's fascination. Aided by Rudolph Kopp's throbbing music, this entire episode has PRE-PRODUCTION CODE emblazoned all over it.
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