Sophia Loren plays a dual role, as both the sultry Queen of the Nile with a "man-a-night" appetite and a beautiful slave girl who takes her place and is wooed by a bodyguard who thinks she's the real monarch.
Cleopatra è una donna bellissima ma ha un piccolo difetto: quando un ufficiale della guardia le piace, dopo una notte d'amore lo fa avvelenare dal fido Tortul perchè Marcantonio non lo venga a sapere. Cesarino è un ufficiale nuovo, non ancora al corrente del piccolo vizio di Cleopatra e subito accetta di fare la guardia alla regina. Quando entra non trova però la vera sovrana, ma Nisca, una schiava sua sosia che il perfido Tortul aveva scovato per permettere a Cleopatra di andare in incognito da Marcantonio. Ma, passata la prima notte, la vera Cleopatra torna... Written by
Baldinotto da Pistoia
TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA (Mario Mattoli, 1953) **
This one can't seem to make up its mind whether to be a vehicle for Italian comic Alberto Sordi or a peplum spoof, perhaps the first in the genre; I tend to find Sordi's brand of humor in this early stage overbearing as for the latter, CARRY ON CLEO (1964; which I watched in January) is far superior!
Lovely Sophia Loren (not yet the international star, she featured in a famous bare-breasted black-and-white publicity still for this very film!) has a dual role as the conniving Cleopatra and a lookalike slave, who is made to pass for her when she absents herself to visit Marc Anthony (played by peplum regular Ettore Manni). Sordi is an Egyptian merchant who contrives to (literally) win a place as a personal guardian to the Queen of the Nile: the trouble is that she's in the habit of taking these as lovers and then have them killed!; the title, then, refers to Sordi's having trysts with both of Loren's characters (comforting the despairing slave while aggravating the no-nonsense ruler!). By the way, "Euro-Cult" stalwart Paul Muller is Cleopatra's villainous adviser.
For the record, director Mattoli helmed several Toto' vehicles around this same time; besides, the script was co-written by Ettore Scola (later a top director in his own right) while Giuseppe Colizzi, a future Spaghetti Western specialist, served here as production manager. Incidentally, I had resisted renting this on DVD in a dubbed version but, when it eventually turned up on Italian TV, the battered print used featured a number of jump cuts so that the film ended up being even shorter than its already modest 78 minutes!
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