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Cleopatra (1963)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 31 July 1963 (UK)
1:03 | Trailer

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Historical epic. The triumphs and tragedy of the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra.


, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


(screenplay), (screenplay) | 5 more credits »
2,836 ( 150)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pamela Brown ...
George Cole ...
Kenneth Haigh ...
Pothinus (as Gregoire Aslan)
Martin Benson ...


In 48 B.C., Caesar pursues Pompey from Pharsalia to Egypt. Ptolemy, now supreme ruler after deposing his older sister, Cleopatra, attempts to gain favor with Caesar by presenting the conquerer with the head of Pompey, borne by his governors, Pothinos and Achillas. To win Caesar's support from her brother, Cleopatra hides herself in a rug, which Apollodorus, her servant, presents to Caesar. The Roman is immediately infatuated; banishing Ptolemy, he declares Cleopatra Egypt's sole ruler and takes her as his mistress. A son, Caesarion, is born of their union. Caesar, however, must return to Italy. Although he is briefly reunited with Cleopatra during a magnificent reception for the queen in Rome, Caesar is assassinated shortly thereafter, and Cleopatra returns to Egypt. When Mark Antony, Caesar's protégé, beholds Cleopatra aboard her elaborate barge at Tarsus some years later, he is smitten and becomes both her lover and military ally. Their liaison notwithstanding, Antony, to ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The motion picture the world has been waiting for!


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Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

31 July 1963 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Kleopatra  »

Box Office


$31,115,000 (estimated)


$57,750,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV) | (director's cut) | (roadshow) | (50th Anniversary)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)| (Westrex Recording System)| (70mm re-release)


Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the early filming at Pinewood Studios, the harsh weather conditions of the English winter brought on pneumonia for the fragile Elizabeth Taylor. After a day at the set in which she had to be carried on and off because she was so weak, Taylor eventually collapsed in her hotel room at the Dorchester. The private doctor of Queen Elizabeth II was summoned to her hotel room. According to Taylor, he apparently shook her violently like a rag doll and pounded on her rib cage, provoking no consciousness within her. She was given an hour to live and was said to be in a coma. An emergency tracheotomy was performed successfully at the hospital and Taylor slowly recovered. Filming proceeded a few months later, this time in Rome's hot climate. See more »


(Check this) As Cleopatra's procession enters Rome, the African warriors and dancers are dressed, (I believe) in Zulu garb. The Zulus hail from South Africa, the other end of the continent, and probably would be unknown to the Egyptians. The warriors and dancers are (probably) Nubians should be dressed in traditional Nubian (Sudanese) costumes. Sudan is that country immediately south of Egypt. See more »


[as they begin eating on Cleopatra's barge]
Marc Antony: Fabulous feast.
Cleopatra: One is so limited when one travels by ship.
See more »


Referenced in The Nanny: Where's the Pearls? (1996) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Mutilated potential classic
13 December 2005 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Fritz Lang's Metropolis is rightly regarded as a classic, but many reviews make note of the 'illogical' story and bad character plotting. Characters come and go without rhyme or reason, and the plot makes no sense, they say. Well, yes, but that's not Fritiz's fault, nor the movie's; Metropolis makes little sense because 55 minutes of the film was hacked out and destroyed, never to be seen again, by the US distributors. Of course it's gonna be a dog's dinner with an hour missing, ya clods!!

The same is true of Cleopatra, and this is basically the only reason the film fell flat on its' 1963 release. It was originally intended to release Cleopatra as two three hour movies, the first dealing with Cleo's relationship with Caesar, the second her affairs with Marc Antony. Fox said no to this idea, and demanded a single four hour film instead. This decision is like taking Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and removing an hour from each film wherever an hours' worth can be removed...a recipe for incoherence and total disaster.

So, with two hours of footage gone, major characters are reduced to glorified walk-ons, vital plot points and motivations are lost, and the story loses what LOTR has...length with the proper pacing. People will sit and watch 4 hours of Return Of The King because it flows properly. People will not sit and watch 4 hours of stitched together rough cuts...that's what Cleopatra is, even in the DVD roadshow edition...because what we have is something that is too bitty and haphzard to sustain interest.

But there is still glory in Cleo....Roddy McDowall, Martin Landau and Rex Harrison all act their socks off, the sea battle is kick ass, and Liz Taylor looks pretty scrummy in Egyptian softcore porn clothes. And only a Gen Xer like me could love that hideously pompous overblown dialogue.

Great film! For what it is. It just should have been TWO films, that's all. Real eyepopping trippy spectacle, done in a 'damn the money, full speed ahead' way that just doesn't happen any more. Like Casino Royale, Cleo is a wonderful disaster.

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