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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by MCA ever since. See more »
As you look at Pothinos' chariot as it comes at you the horse in the right side is a good hand shorter than the horse on the left. See more »
This is an excellent adaptation of the life of Cleopatra, based mostly, I think, on Shakespeare. Claudette Colbert is not one of my favorite actresses, but this is probably the best part I've seen her in. Even better are those around her. The only actor of whom I had heard in the film is C. Aubrey Smith, the venerable character actor. He is excellent here as Antony's general, Enobarbus. Warren William is a very good Julius Caesar. Gertrude Michael plays his wife, Calpurnia, well. Ian Keith is just how I'd imagine Octavian. Joseph Schildkraut has only five minutes of screen time as Herod, which is truly unfortunate considering how good he is. The film's standout performance comes from Henry Wilcoxon as Marc Antony. Wilcoxon is very good at projecting Antony's conflicted interests. While the acting is great, Cleopatra is probably most memorable for its lavishness, DeMille's speciality, of course. Caesar's and Cleopatra's triumphant entrance into Rome is fantastic, while not going anywhere near as overboard as they did in the crappy 1963 version starring Elizabeth Taylor. The scene in which Cleopatra and Antony first make love is an enormous spectacle. And the film contains perhaps the best war montage that I've ever seen. The previous year's Best Picture, Cavalcade, had a horrific WWI montage. Cleopatra contains the most amazing scenes of ancient warfare. They all happen quickly, but the production in these bits is superlative. The sea battle, even if it may be only thirty seconds long, is a dozen times more believable than the stale, cheap naval battle of Ben-Hur, filmed over 20 years later. And there are also many moments of subtlety, which I didn't predict. Julius Caesar's execution is well done. DeMille doesn't try to overwhelm the audience at that point, preferring to film it simply. The aftermath is given more attention (of course, Caesar isn't the focus of this film). And Antony's emotional suicide is good, as well. It's a very good film. 9/10.
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