In these COVID-addled times, you need the warm comfort of schlock. Fortunately, Hollywood offers schlock from canonical directors, inexplicably written by great American novelists. This is slow to start, as if they're hellbent on panning over every extra they paid for. But it picks up, and the camp exoticism and ooh-la-la titillation of Hollywood Biblical flicks has its place in Hawks's sexual dynamics & polymath CV.
With Mankiewicz's ´Cleopatra´, this Howard Hawks film is my favorite peplum set in ancient Egypt. The production design was under the responsibility of Alexandre Trauner, the man who literally invented the French Poetic Realism movement of the late 30's, the screenplay is co-written by William Faulkner and the film never looks cheap thanks to Howard Hawks's magistral use of camera movements. Masterpiece.
A disaster upon its original release, Howard Hawks' CinemaScope epic is actually a pretty entertaining melodrama. A lavishly designed visual spectacle with a compelling, fast-paced plot (co-written by William Faulkner) and a great boisterous score by Dimitri Tiomkin. There are a number of overheated moments and performances, but somehow that's all part of its bloated pulp charm. Underrated.
Kitsch and camp in all their glory. Irresistible Joan Collins as the beautiful evil queen. The actors are a slightly out of place, but I guess improbable casting for 'sword and sandals' films is one key aspect of the genre. However, there are many compelling and impressive moments, particularly the crowd scenes, and Hawks manages to make sense of all the disparate elements and give a genuine spectacle.