CleopatraDirector: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
In 1963, this colossal and opulent $60 million spectacular was epic in every sense of the word -- an epic investment, an epic in the annals of Hollywood gossip, and, ultimately, an epic flop that nearly dragged 20th Century Fox down the Nile along with Cleopatra's barge. Handsomely mounted by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who replaced Rouben Mamoulian as director after six days of shooting), the drama follows the eighteen tumultuous years that led to the founding of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) meets up with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and plans to lure Caesar to her boudoir in order to forge an alliance with Rome so that she may hold on to her Egyptian empire. When Caesar is stabbed to death in the Roman Senate, Cleopatra is left without an ally, and Egypt is up for grabs. When Roman general Mark Antony (Richard Burton) comes along, she seduces him in order to make him over into her new protector. But, under the charms of Cleopatra, Mark Antony is reduced from a an awesome and dominating general to a sniveling, drunken wimp. At the Battle of Actium, Mark Antony is defeated and Cleopatra withdraws her troops, dooming Mark Antony and his army. With Egypt in peril, Antony and Cleopatra, the doomed lovers, meet each other for the last time, as the enemy forces close in.
- Release Date:
- Original Release:
- 20th Century Fox
Cast & Crew
|Joseph L. Mankiewicz||Director,Screenwriter|
|L.B. Abbott||Special Effects|
|David Berman||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Herman A. Blumenthal||Art Director|
|Hilyard M. Brown||Art Director|
|Renie Conley||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Walden O. Corcoran||Sound/Sound Designer|
|James Corcoran||Sound/Sound Designer|
|John De Cuir||Production Designer|
|Alberto de Rossi||Makeup|
|C.O. Erickson||Production Manager|
|Paul S. Fox||Set Decoration/Design|
|Boris Juraga||Art Director|
|Emil Kosa||Special Effects|
|Ray Moyer||Set Decoration/Design|
|Lionel Newman||Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Alex North||Score Composer|
|Vittorio Nino Novarese||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Maurice Pelling||Art Director|
|Walter Scott||Set Decoration/Design|
|Irene Sharaff||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Fred R. Simpson||Asst. Director|
|Jack Martin Smith||Art Director|
|Elven Webb||Art Director|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This movie was just plain amazing! Its sort of long, but worth it! It was very hard to stop watching it once it became too late. Totally reccomend it! Brilliant acting and plot and set!
There is no equal to this film and Elizabeth Taylor never looked more amazing. The chemistry between Taylor and, then beau, Richard Burton was as hot on the screen as it was off screen and made for an intense love affair. From Cleopatra's unbelievable entrance into Rome to the tragic death of the queen herself, this film upholds the very magnificence that makes it the eternal classic that it is.
The irony of ''Cleopatra'' is that it seems to be more famous and have a better following now than it did when it was released in 1963. Times have changed and movies too since then (but only somewhat - ''Gladiator''). What's so fantastic about ''Cleopatra'' was the enormous amount of work, energy, talent, money that went into it's production that wasn't appreciated at the time, but is now. Today, the movie would have won more Oscars than it did then, including ''Best Picture''. People didn't appreciate the effort then ( a lot of it due to the Taylor/Burton business off the screen). Still, when the picture premiered, it was like no other. ''Cleopatra'' cost $44 million dollars to make during it's filming from 1959 to 1963 and actually ended up being the most successful box-office film of 1963 with nearly $58 million in ticket sales. Even with the impressive top box-office award title, it still was only $15 million or so from what it cost to make and the near-bankruptcy of 20th Century Fox was not good for publicity either. All in all, ''Cleopatra'' should be viewed today for the grand epic it is and what it did bring to the screen and not for the flaws and hype it attracted back in 1963. It really is an excellent movie considering it is amazing it was ever even completed with all the problems. It has certainly done far better than other films that had disastrous production problems. You'll never see this film made again and even if they tried, they could never capture the class, grandeur, scope, talent that went into this one. This version truly is ''a work of art''. Too bad they don't re-release the film to be shown again at the theater. I imagine with today's world, it would be history all over again - but this time far more people would appreciate it and it would probably still make money.
The movie should have won more awards such as best picture or best actress (liz Taylor). Its the greatest type of Cleoptra movie youll see for a long time. with the speacial edition DVD, you get scoop of how they made it and how it beacme to be. It is a MUST SEE MOVIE!
Fun film, nicely made epic and well worth a watch on DVD in letterbox. Should be a great buy. This is a classic example of old Hollywood's excess. The movie cost some $60 million and grossed less than $40 in the US. Was plagued with production troubles and spawned the famous Taylor-Burton romance. For more on the making of the pic, check out Curse of the Silver Screen - Tragedy & Disaster Behind the Movies - available from Aplomb Publishing and in the barnes and noble book section.
It is great to have this wonderful movie on Blu-ray. Maybe someday they will find the missing footage from the 6 hour version. Roddy McDowall, Hume Cronyn, and Rex Harrison are all supposed to have scenes that were cut that show more of Cleopatra being extremely smart and a great Egyptian leader. What we are left with is a great love story that focuses on Mark Anthony and Cleopatra's love affair that parallels the actor's own real love story. Roddy McDowall should have got an Academy Award for his acting, maybe the missing footage would have made a difference.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz' direction of this 1963 film was, for the longest time, the biggest flop in Hollywood history However, when one sees the phenomenal sets and impeccable acting, one begins to wonder why this film had such a bad rap. The film failed to attract audiences simply because the genre was fading out of the spotlight after the preceding decades' major successes of 'The Ten Commandments', 'Ben Hur', 'Quo Vadis', 'Spartacus', etc. 'Cleopatra' expected to ride on the wave of success as the latter did but simply found itself at low tide. There was also some bad publicity due to the love affair between Taylor and Burton. So much money had been spent on the lavish costumes, sets, locations, and actors that it couldn't make a profit when it was released. The truth of the film is that it is technically brilliant in every way. The movie brushes over Cleopatra's (Elizabeth Taylor) relations with Caesar (Rex Harrison) because the main focus is Mark Antony (Richard Burton.) Depsite this rushed plot, Rex Harrison's confident and affable performance brings the character of Caesar to life without flaw. This being primarily a romantic tragedy, both Caesar's and Marc Antony's military exploits are very briefly touched upon; the main battle scene in the film is the decisive naval engagement of Actium . Richard Burton delivers an outstanding performance as Marcus Antonius; Caesar's most trusted legate. Burton's powerful acting brings to the forefront Marc Antony's bachid personality. It seems that Burton and Taylor's love affair during the film simply added to the legendary magnetism between the two doomed lovers. Finally, Roddy McDowell delivers an impeccable performance as Octavian; Caesar's sickly adopted son who would soon give the coup de grace to the failing Roman Republic and become the sole master of Rome as Emperor Augustus. The plot is character driven and the actors deliver outstanding performances. The substance of script is primarily based on the anecdotal history of the characters as recited in Plutarch's classic work 'Lives' and this gives the film a sense of authentic classical flair. This is complemented by one of the most lavish sets and backdrops ever to be made in Hollywood history. A simply brilliant film that one can watch over and over again without ever getting tired. I would strongly recommend this edition for one's collection.
That a film as good as CLEOPATRA is was created at all under the madness and panic of it's legendary production is indeed an amazing feat. That CLEOPATRA has been given such loving care in it's restoration in this DVD of the "Road show" print is a wondrous gift to those who love this film. The print and the sound of CLEOPATRA seems now to surpass what I recall it to be in its first presentation nearly forty years ago. The depth of the colors and the richness of the shadows are indeed splendid. In it's present form it is hard to believe this film is as old as it is. The commentary track is like finding the lost treasures of the long dead monarch. For there are wonderful recollections by Martin Landau, Tom and Chris Mankiewicz, and even Jack Brodsky gets to read sections from his book "The Cleopatra Papers". But I must give special mention to Landau's part. With his keen eye for the art direction of John DeCur one sees things in the background and along the edges of the scene that one never noticed before. Such lovingly detailed sets and interiors will never be seen again. The costs today are just too prohibitive. Also his insights into what was cut from the film, particularly his and Richard Burton's contributions in the second act give one the idea of what Mankiewicz was intending. Poor Richard suffered the unkindest cut of all. The presentation of the DVD menus are so clever and exotic and are to be commended in their art direction. At last we now know what is behind the massive 20th Century Fox logo! The film itself remains what it has always been, a good film that might have been great if only Zanuck had but trusted Joe Mankiewicz' original vision. In the documentary it is stated that Fox is looking for the missing film, one can only hope that they succeed. The performances range from excellent to good. Particular praise must go to Rex Harrison, Richard Burton, Martin Landau, Robert Stephens, Andrew Keir, and Roddy McDowall. Lastly in this department there remains Elizabeth Taylor's performance as Cleopatra. At the films release she got the brickbats and for reasons that had nothing to do with her performance. It is always hard to separate the history of the lady from her film roles. But here in this film is where she became the ELIZABETH TAYLOR she has remained in the mind of the world to this day. In this fact alone she is perfect in the role. She is at once regal and commanding, strong and tender, soft and hard. The contradictions that have always been at the heart of Cleopatra herself, the public enigma wrapped within a mystery. In her performance as written by Mankiewicz she is probably not too far off from the historical Cleopatra. Ever since Judith Crist gave CLEOPATRA the needle in 1963 and in the act made her name, the public, for the most part, has viewed this film a failure. But today, stripped of the scandal, hype and hysteria of its release in June of '63 it is now possible to view CLEOPARTA as the
Though not received well by audiences when it was released, Cleopatra seems to have gained somewhat of a following today. The stormy romance between Cleopatra and Marc Antony was nothing compared to the marriages of Burton and Taylor. However, on the screen they were magic. The sets were straight out of a Demille epic and on a huge scale. The photography was superb and there is a long list of supporting actors who went on to bigger careers later especially in television.