The story of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt who wants to stabilize her power by using the tensions in the Roman Empire. Caesar visits Egypt, has an affair with her, and returns to Rome. She bears his child and visits Rome to claim her place at Caesar’s side. He is murdered before this can happen. She returns to Egypt leaving Rome in turmoil. Mark Antony follows her to Egypt and they fall in love. However, Octavian defeats Anthony in battle.
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on February 11, 1909, Joseph Leo Mankiewicz first worked for the movies as a translator of intertitles, employed by Paramount in Berlin, the UFA’s American distributor at the time (1928). He became a dialoguist, then a screenwriter on numerous Paramount productions in Hollywood, most of them Jack Oakie vehicles. Still in his 20s, he produced first-class MGM films, including The Philadelphia Story (1940). Having left Metro after a dispute with studio chief Louis B. Mayer over Judy Garland, he then worked for Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century-Fox, producing The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), when Ernst Lubitsch’s illness first brought him to the director’s chair for Dragonwyck (1946). Mankiewicz directed 20 films in a 26-year period, successfully attempted every kind of movie from Shakespeare adaptation to western, from urban sociological drama to musical, from epic film with thousands of extras to a two-character picture. A Letter to Three Wives (1949… read more
Roddy McDowall and Martin Landau needed more screen time in this...they were both better than the leads....with the exception of Rex Harrison. If nothing else, this film reminds one of the good old days when sets were actually built and not just created on a computer screen....the last of its kind.
Watched it to add some je ne sais quoi to my reading of Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra biography, and it did the job -- I'm not sure what the hell it added, and that's a fact. Schiff's masterful politician is nowhere to be found in ET's petulant siren. One only hopes that events as they transpired in historical Alexandria were less dreary than these turgid simulations so expensively projected by Mankiewicz and company.
Even before the classical narration is heard in the opening, Cleopatra has the high air of a presentation at a renowned British documentary. By the end of this unusually long (over four hours) film… read review