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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Elizabeth Taylor and Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra (1934 & 1963)













Claudette Colbert is Cleopatra (1934) Directed by Cecil B. DeMille

Cleopatra is a 1934 epic film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and distributed by Paramount Pictures, which retells the story of Cleopatra VII of Egypt. It was written by Waldemar Young, Vincent Lawrence and Bartlett Cormack, and produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Claudette Colbert stars as Cleopatra, Warren William as Julius Caesar, and Henry Wilcoxon as Mark Antony.

Production
The shoot was a difficult one due to Colbert contracting appendicitis on the set of her previous film, Four Frightened People, leaving her only able to stand for a few minutes at a time. Heavy costumes complicated matters further.

Due to Colbert's fear of snakes, DeMille put off her death scene for as long as possible. At the time of shooting, he walked onto the set with a boa constrictor wrapped around his neck and handed Colbert a tiny garden snake.

In 1934, the Hays code had just taken effect, so DeMille got away with using more risque imagery than he would be able to in his later productions. He opens the film with an apparently naked, but strategically lit slave girl holding up an incense burner in each hand as the title appears on screen.

The film is also memorable for the sumptuous art deco look of its sets (by Hans Dreier) and costumes (by Travis Banton), the atmospheric music composed and conducted by Rudolph George Kopp, and for DeMille's legendary set piece of Cleopatra's seduction of Antony, which takes place on Cleopatra's barge.

Reception
Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times called it "one of the director's most ambitious spectacles" and singled out Wilcoxon's performance as "excellent, especially in the more dramatic sequences."

Film Daily called it a "sumptuous historical drama" with a "strong cast" and "good entertainment values".

John Mosher of The New Yorker wrote that "Even as extravaganza it's moderate", and called the dialogue "the worst I have ever heard in the talkies."

Variety agreed that "Often the lines drew titters that are not being angled for", but maintained, "Photographically the picture is superb."

The film was one of Paramount's biggest hits of the year.

Elizabeth Taylor is Cleopatra (1963) Richard Burton, Rex Harrison

Cleopatra is a 1963 American epic historical drama film chronicling the struggles of Cleopatra VII, the young Queen of Egypt, to resist the imperial ambitions of Rome. It was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and shot in the 70 mm Todd-AO format, with a screenplay adapted by Mankiewicz, Ranald MacDougall and Sidney Buchman from a book by Carlo Maria Franzero.

The film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall, and Martin Landau.

Cleopatra achieved notoriety during its production for its massive cost overruns and production troubles, which included changes in director and cast, a change of filming locale, sets that had to be constructed twice, lack of a firm shooting script, and personal scandal around its co-stars. It was the most expensive film ever made up to that point and almost bankrupted 20th Century-Fox.

It received mixed reviews from critics, although critics and audiences alike generally praised Taylor and Burton's performances. It was the highest grossing film of 1963, earning US$26 million ($57.7 million total; equivalent to $445.98 million in 2016), yet made a loss due to its production and marketing costs of $44 million (equivalent to $340.09 million in 2016), making it the only film ever to be the highest grossing film of the year yet to run at a loss.

Cleopatra later won four Academy Awards, and was nominated for five more, including Best Picture (which it lost to Tom Jones).

$6.99 (USA & INTL) Claudette Colbert is Cleopatra (1934)
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Elizabeth Taylor is Cleopatra (1963) Richard Burton, Rex Harrison 2 DVDs

$9.99 (USA & INTL) 2 DVDs Cleopatra (1963)
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USA -  $10.99 - 3 DVDs - Cleopatra (1934 & 1963)
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USA -  $11.99 - 4 DVDs - Cleopatra (1934 & 1963) + Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood (1963
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Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood (1963) 
Narrated by Robert Culp - 1 DVD

Feature-length documentary recounting the making of Cleopatra, which starred Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. Twentieth Century Fox's 1963 epic film has been called the most expensive film of all time, the biggest-ever flop and the film that nearly bankrupted a Hollywood studio, while the scandal of the on-set romance between its two stars caused a media storm. Featuring rare footage, the film's original uncut trailer and interviews with those involved.

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SHE (1925) Betty Blythe, Cleopatra (1912) Helen Gardner
 http://rarefilmclassics.blogspot.com/2013/09/alla-nazimova-is-salome-1924-camille.html