Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cleopatra (1934)

Director: Cecil B. DeMille

Writers: Bartlett Cormack, Waldemar Young, Vincent Lawrence

Composer: Rudolph G. Kopp

Starring: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Henry Wilcoxon, Joseph Schildkraut, Ian Keith, Gertrude Michael, C. Aubrey Smith, Irving Pichel, Arthur Hohl, Edwin Maxwell, Ian Maclaren, Eleanor Phelps, Leonard Mudie, Grace Durkin, Claudia Dell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: History's most seductive woman! The screen's mightiest spectacle!

Plot: In 48 BC, Cleopatra, facing palace revolt in her kingdom of Egypt, welcomes the arrival of Julius Caesar as a way of solidifying her power under Rome. When Caesar, whom she has led astray, is killed, she transfers her affections to Marc Antony and dazzles him on a barge full of DeMillean splendor. But the trick may not work a third time.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I didn't care for the first half of this.  It's so stagy.  Most everyone is over acting.  Colbert comes off best.  Not only does she hold back a little but she looks amazing.  Her outfits are sexy as shit.  The dialogue is often stale and it comes off corny.  The actors often don't act any differently than if they were in a B crime film or melodramatic romance.  That style doesn't work in a historical drama such as this.  The second half of the film fares better except for some aspects that carry over from the first half like the romance angle.  The film makers play loose with the facts but that's par for the course in Hollywood. In the last act we get some battle footage that is clearly taken from other films with closeups of Anthony and Cleopatra as well as a few bits made for this film.  Despite that, there are some neat shots and kills.  They're the most enjoyable moments of the picture.  After that it's back to the melodrama but faster paced as we've got only a few more minutes in which to see the picture come to a close.  It's an OK picture but nothing special.  Reading the IMDb reviews and boards you'd think this was a masterpiece of cinema.  Perhaps if it were 80 years ago and all I had to go off of were the films up to this point, only then might my feelings be different.  There's nothing different here than you'd find in other genres of film of the time except for the costumes and set design.  According to IMDb David Niven and John Carradine can be seen (uncredited in the film) in bit parts.

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