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Dina De Santis,
surprisingly different Italian costume drama about the rise of Cleopatra
As a dedicated fan of dubbed 1960s European costume historical adventures, I went into A QUEEN FOR CAESAR with limited expectations, expecting strong performances from such a good cast, but not much else. Boy, was I thrown a curve! First of all, as the other review noted, the entire film takes place BEFORE Cleopatra's time with Caesar and Antony. We begin with Cleo and her nerdy, immature, arrogant brother Ptolameous, who sounds like he is being voiced (in the English dubbed version) by the fifteen year old Sal Mineo!! We also meet a Roman poet who helps Cleopatra; the military leader Pompeius (well-played by Akim Tamiroff), who lusts after Cleopatra and forces her to use her wiles against him to get what she wants; and her boyfriend Achillas, played by the reliable Georges/Giorgio Ardisson. Cleopatra is played by French actress Pascale Petit, who reminds me of a less buxom Jayne Mansfield and who does a wonderful job of being playful yet strong yet vulnerable, which is just what this character is at this point in her rise. As a Gordon Scott fan, I was anxious to see him as Caesar (by the way, I don't think he's too young for the role--he's in his late thirties at least, and he has a commanding presence, so he convinced ME that he could lead an empire and destroy his rivals!), but Caesar is only in the final third of the film, and Scott correctly received "guest star" billing at the end of the credits. I was not familiar with Cleopatra's history (assuming this film is historically accurate), so the final scene came out of the blue for me and was quite outrageous. My head was spinning for a while after a "THE END" credit came on the screen. On my copy of this film, the direction was credited solely to "V. Tourjansky"--Piero Pierotti was not mentioned. As 1960s historical dramas go, I must rate this as well above average. It may not have epic battles or grandiose court scenes, but I was never sure what direction it would go in, and each character was distinctive and full of little quirks that put the film well out of the realm of the average. It took me many years to find a copy of this, but I'm glad I did. I'll have to dig out some of the other films I have that star Pascale Petit--CODE NAME JAGUAR with Ray Danton, and FIND A PLACE TO DIE with Jeffrey Hunter. She is excellent and I can imagine her in a wide variety of roles. Recommended!!
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