Hosted by Robert Culp, this two-hour program combines film clips, behind the scenes footage, and recent interviews to create a look at the troubled 1958-1963 production. The interviews include a few surviving (at the time) actors such as Hume Cronyn and Martin Landau, plus 1995 bits from Roddy McDowall. Written by
Behind The Scenes Look at a Famous Hollywood Blockbuster
THE FILM THAT CHANGED Hollywood makes a false claim; CLEOPATRA did not necessarily change Hollywood culture (the old studio system was breaking down well before the film's release in 1963), but exists as a testament to Twentieth Century-Fox's folly in pouring vast quantities of dollars into a project beyond anyone's control. The narrative tells a familiar tale, of producer Spyros Skouras quarreling with Darryl F. Zanuck; of director Joseph L. Mankiewicz desperately trying to write and direct the film in the face of impossible odds; of Elizabeth Taylor trying to cope with illness, while subsequently falling in love with costar Richard Burton; and of a production that began in Pinewood Studios, England, and eventually relocated to Cinecitta Studios in Rome. However CLEOPATRA was not quite the disaster that many historians have claimed; it ended up making a great deal of money, due in no small part to Fox's slick advertising campaign. This documentary is perhaps a little too concerned with the nuances of the film's making, but is fascinating nonetheless, if only for the fact that it preserves the reminiscences of many of those involved in the project, who have now sadly passed away.
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