A number of day-to-day schedule problems and delays appear to have been costume-related, in many cases because Claudette Colbert felt they didn't fit her correctly and was sending them back to the costume shop.
In 1934 the Hays Code was only just being implemented so Cecil B. DeMille made sure to flaunt its restrictions while he was still legally able to do so. He opens the film with an apparently naked but strategically lit slave girl holding an incense burner in each hand as the title appears onscreen.
When Cecil B. DeMille was in pre-production on this film, he asked to screen the original version, Cleopatra (1917) with Theda Bara. No prints could be found on in Los Angeles, so a copy of it was borrowed from the Fox office in New York. After DeMille viewed the film it was sent back to Little Ferry, New Jersey. On July 9, 1937, a fire at the storage facility destroyed almost all of Fox's known archived prints, most likely including Cleopatra. The screening for DeMille's company, on February 15, 1934, may have been the last time anyone saw the legendary film.
When she first started having discussions with Cecil B. DeMille about playing the part of Cleopatra, Claudette Colbert expressed a lot of unease about her climactic scene with an asp, being terrified of snakes. On the day the scene was to be filmed, DeMille had one of the largest snakes sent over from Los Angeles Zoo and approached Colbert onset with it as she sat in costume on her throne. The actress was terrified and pleaded with him not to come any nearer to her with the enormous snake, whereupon DeMille produced the diminutive little asp and said "How about this instead?" Colbert was perfectly happy to film the scene with such a small snake instead.
Daily Variety reported that the film was badly panned by Italian critics, one of whom called it a "travesty and a burlesque," when shown in Rome. It also was met with "catcalls and derisive laughter" from the audience.