Tuesday, April 19, 2022

CLEOPATRA On Celluloid : Claudette Colbert, Vivian Leigh, Rhonda Fleming, Sophia Loren, and Elizabeth Taylor


The real Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ (Cleopatra Philopator), her actual spoken language was Greek, was Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, a Greek State within Egypt, established by one of the followers of Alexander III of Macedon (aka: The Great), from 51 to 30 BC. 

Most of my readers know of her political and sexual relationships with both Statesman and Roman General Gaius Julius Caesar and, after his assassination on March 15, 44 BC, with Roman general Marcus Antonius leading to her death.

Some of the history about the Egyptian Queen, that my readers might know, comes not from history books, but "Hollywood Motion Pictures". Which might be a misleading statement by me, as the first known motion picture about her came from France in 1899. 

This article takes a look at five motion picture about "Queen Cleopatra"three come from the United States, one from the United Kingdom, and one from Italy

For the record, that 1899 motion picture was not a historical biography, but a silent French horror short subject, running about two-minutes. It was made by the great Georges Melies, a magican turned film maker, and his original title was "Cleopatre (Cleopatra)". When the short came to the United States, the title was either "Cleopatra's Tomb", or "Robbing Cleopatra's Tomb". Melies tells of an archeologist, played by himself, digging in a tomb, who accidently severs the remains of "Cleopatra", played by Jehanne d'Alcy, releasing her ghost for revenge against him.

Above, Jehanne d'Alcy as "Cleopatra".

The first American film was the 1917 "Cleopatra". The screenplay was based upon a book by British novelist H. Ridder Haggard's, who wrote 1885's "King Solomon's Mines" and 1886's "SHE", and William Shakespeare's two plays, 1599's "Julius Caesar", and 1607's "Anthony and Cleopatra". 

This "Lost Film" starring Theda Bara has reached legendary status after a 1937 fire, at the "Fox Studios", destroyed the last two known prints. 

The Five Motion Pictures of This Article:

CLEOPATRA released October 5, 1934

The motion picture was produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Two years earlier, DeMille had produced and directed 1932's "Sign of the Cross", starring Fredric March and Claudette Colbert. That screenplay was a story about the Christian persecutions under Roman Empire "Nero Claudius Caesar", portrayed by Charles Laughton, but it wasn't DeMille's first "Biblical Motion Picture". In 1923, the silent movie industry was plagued by the censors and religious groups set on protecting American morality. Cecil B. DeMille presented an idea to the executives of "Paramount Pictures", they bought into it, and the first "Biblical Sex Movie" was born. 

In his original "The Ten Commandments", Cecil B. DeMille divided the story into two parts. The first was about receiving the commandments and the exodus from Egypt. Switch to 1923, and in the second part, DeMille had his characters break all ten! 

As Cecil B. DeMille had gambled upon, not one piece of motion picture celluloid was removed by the censors and the film was praised by those religious groups as a great morality play.

DeMille first applied his lessons learned from "The Ten Commandments" to "The Sign of the Cross", with Claudette Colbert's famous nude milk-bath scene. A similar scene would be in "Cleopatra".

My article, "The Bible According to Hollywood" can be read at:


The motion pictures writing credits are very interesting.

First, there is credit given to the Greek Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, biographer, and essayist, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, more simply known as Plutarch, for his biography, "Life of Caesar".

Bartlett Cormack wrote the initial story for the motion picture. He is credited with using "historical material", but what that "historical material" is, other than Plutarch's book, I could not locate.

The actual screenplay was written by two writers:

Waldemar Young started screenplay writing in 1917. Among his work are four silent films by director Tod Browning starring Lon Chaney, Sr., 1925's "The Unholy Three", 1927's "The Unknown" co-starring Joan Crawford, 1927's "London After Midnight", and 1928's "West of Zanzibar" co-starring Lionel Barrymore. For Cecil B. DeMille,  Young co-wrote 1932's "The Sign of the Cross", and 1935's "The Crusades".  Also in 1932, was the "Island of Lost Souls" starring Charles Laughton as H.G. Wells' "Dr. Moreau" and Bela Lugosi as "The Law Giver". 

Vincent Lawrence started his screenplay writing career in 1924. Most of his work before "Cleopatra", were musicals for Maurice Chevalier. However, in 1938, Lawrence co-wrote the screenplay for "Test  Pilot" starring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, and Spencer Tracy. The following year he was an uncredited contributor to the screenplay for 1939's "Gunga Din" starring Cary Grant, Victor McLagen, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

The Three Leads and Two Main Supporting Players:

Claudette Colbert portrayed "Cleopatra". Colbert bookended this motion picture with the release of director Frank Capra's 1934, "It Happened One Night", co-starring with Clark Gable, and followed this feature with the 1934 version of authoress Fannie Hurst's "Imitation of Life", with her "Cleopatra" co-star Warren William.

Warren William portrayed "Gaius Julius Caesar". William was appearing in two film series, he was both Erle Stanley Gardner's lawyer, "Perry Mason", and, S.S. Van Dine's detective, "Philo Vance". Warren William had bookended this feature first as "Perry Mason" in 1934's "The Case of the Howling Dog", and followed with the previously mention 1934 "Imitation of Life".

Henry Wilcoxon
portrayed "Marcus Antonius aka: Marc Anthony". Wilcoxon started on-screen acting in 1931, and besides this picture. The actor was in Cecil B. DeMille's, 1935 "The Crusades", 1947's "Unconquered", 1949's "Samson and Delilah", 1952's "The Greatest Show on Earth", and 1956's "The Ten Commandments".

Joseph Schildkraut portrayed "King Herod". Schildkraut started acting in the Austrian-Hungary film industry in 1915. Over his career the actor would portray "Judas Iscariot" in Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 silent classic, "King of Kings", that starred H.B. Warner as "Jesus". In 1929, he portrayed "Gaylord Ravenal" in the hybrid part silent, part talkie, version of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's "Show Boat", and he also appeared in DeMille's 1935 "The Crusades". In 1959, Joseph Schildkraut portrayed "Otto Frank" in director George Stevens production of "The Diary of Anne Frank".

Above, Henry Wilcoxon with Joseph Schildkraut.

Ian Keith portrayed "Octavian aka: Caesar Augustus". Keith started his on-screen work in 1924. In 1930, he portrayed "John Wilkes Booth" in director D.W. Griffith's "Abraham Lincoln" starring Walter Huston. The same year, Ian Keith was in director Raul Walsh's "The Big Trail", the first movie with an actor now named John Wayne. For DeMille, Keith was in 1932's "Sign of the Cross", 1935's "The Crusades", 1938's "The Buccaneer", and 1956's "The Ten Commandments".

A Little Background Before the Screenplay:

Most people know of Elizabeth Taylor's illnesses during the shooting of her "Cleopatra", which I will address later, but they don't know of the delays caused by Claudette Colbert during the filming of her "Cleopatra". 

One story goes, that while shooting 1934's "Four Frightened People", between September 16, 1933 and November 3, 1933, Claudette Colbert suffered an appendicitis and was still recovering during the filming of the Cecil B. DeMille motion picture. Apparently, the actress could only stand for a few short minutes at a time and some scenes were rewritten to accommodate her.

I don't dispute that story, but it is strange that ten days later, after the completion of "Four Frightened People", between November 13, 1933 and December 22, 1933, Claudette Colbert shot "It Happened One Night". Colbert was promised a maximum of a four-week shoot, because the actress had plans to take a vacation.

For my reader's information, the production dates for "Cleopatra", Claudette Colbert's next motion picture, were between March 13, 1934 and May 2, 1934. 

I leave this to my readers interpretation, because I could not locate any specific date for the actress's actual appendicitis.

What is not disputed was the fact that the costumes Claudette Colbert wore were extremely heavy, because of the type of available materials in 1934, and they slowed her movements at times.

The screenplay contains the historical sequence of "Cleopatra" being smuggled in to see "Julius Caesar" in a rug. About that sequence, Colbert is quoted in the April 16, 1984, "New York Times" article, "Claudette Colbert 80 and Busy":
It was quite difficult to be rolled into a rug and breathe and come out looking pleased with yourself," Colbert remembered. "We only had to do that scene once.

As I already mentioned, Cecil B. DeMille didn't like censorship. On July 1, 1934, the strict "Motion Picture Production Code" would start to be enforced by the no-nonsense Joseph Breen of the "Hayes Office". That meant "Cleopatra" would be one of his first targets. 

However, DeMille was able to just get around Breen and his edicts by arguing that the motion picture was completed "Before" the code went into effect. Therefore, even though it would be released "After" the code was in place, it should be passed untouched. 

The opening credits shows what appears to be a naked slave woman surrounded by dark shadows.

An Overview of the Screenplay:

It is 48 BC and "Cleopatra" and her brother "Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator", there is no actor listed in this role, are politically battling for control of Egypt. "Pothinos, Ptolemy's Regent", played by Leonard Mudie, kidnaps "Cleopatra" and her loyal follower "Apollodorus the Sicilian", portrayed by Irving Pichel, and takes the pair to the desert to die of thirst.

Above, Leonard Mudie and Claudette Colbert.

"Pothinos" next informs "Julius Caesar" that "Queen Cleopatra" has fled Egypt. He convinces the Roman General to sign an agreement with "Ptolemy" for joint control of the country, but in walks "Apollodorus" with a rug as a gift for "Caesar". When the rug is unrolled, there is "Cleopatra", forcing "Pothinos" to try and explain his false words by denying that the woman in the rug is "Cleopatra".

However, "Caesar" sees through the deception and rips up the agreement. Next, apparently alone in "Caesar's" quarters, "Cleopatra" continues to entice him with plans of jointly conquering India for that country's riches. Continuing to use her charms upon the married Roman, as they talk, "Cleopatra" spots a pair of sandals from behind a curtain. She slowly moves into position, picking up a spear during the conversation, and kills the man holding a knife, "Pothinos".

"Gaius Julius Caesar" banishes "Ptolemy", makes "Queen Cleopatra" the sole ruler of Egypt and begins an affair with her.

"Julius Caesar" returns to Rome with "Queen Cleopatra". She rides into the city upon a golden throne lifted by slaves and the citizens cheer her.

There is concern from members of the Roman Senate that "Caesar" may be planning to declare himself Emperor and make "Cleopatra" his Empress. "Julius Caesar" divorces his wife, "Calpurnia", played by Gertrude Michael. seen below speaking to "Marc Anthony" about her concerns. 

"Marc Anthony", after speaking with "Calpurnia", is now worried about what the Senate might do and speaks to his friend "Julius Caesar". Portraying "Anthony's" close friend, General "Gnaeus Domitius Ahentobarbus aka: Enobarbus" in the following still is C. Aubrey Smith.

Ignoring "Calpurnia's" fears and a warning from a soothsayer, on the steps to the Senate, to "beware the Idea of March", the Roman General enters the Senate chambers.

Informing the Senators of his plans, "Gaius Julius Caesar" is assassinated.

Hearing the news, "Cleopatra" wants to go to "Caesar", but "Apollodorus" tells his Queen that her lover's only love was power and what she could bring of it to him. Fearing Roman reprisals, "Cleopatra" and her court return to Egypt.

Next the Senate makes "Marc Anthony" and "Octavian" co-rulers of Rome, but the two remain bitter rivals for power. 

"Anthony" as a means to capture "Cleopatra" and bring her back to Rome, invites her to meet him at Tarsus in South Central Turkey. However, "Enobarbus" warns him against the plan and the Queen, but "Anthony" goes anyway.

When "Marc Anthony" arrives at Tarsus, "Cleopatra" awaits him on her royal barge and the Roman co-ruler finds himself invited to a banquet in his honor.

Instead of bringing "Queen Cleopatra" back to Rome as his prisoner, she seduces "Marc Anthony" and they sail for Egypt.

"King Herod" who is secretly aligned with "Octavian" now visits the lovers. "Herod" in a private audience with "Cleopatra" reveals that both Rome and "Octavian" would be pleased, if she were to poison "Anthony". 

In a drinking match with "Anthony", "Herod" reverses the names.

"Apollodorus" reminds his Queen of her duty to Egypt over her love for any man. On a condemned murderer, she tests the poison wine to see how well it works. While drinking with "Anthony" he holds the poisoned wine class in his hand

Just then, word is received that "Octavian" has declared war on Egypt. "Anthony" orders his Generals and Legions to gather, but "Enobarbus" tells him that all the troops have deserted out of loyalty to Rome and he leaves him also. 

Roman General and co-ruler of Rome, "Marcus Antonius", is now faced with commanding the untested Egyptian army and navy at the critical sea "Battle of Actium", on September 2, 31 BC. Which will end in an Egyptian defeat.


"Octavian" and his soldiers surround and besiege "Anthony" and "Cleopatra" within Alexandria. "Cleopatra" leaves its protection accompanied by "Apollodorus" to meet with "Octavian" in an attempt to save "Anthony", but the bitter "Octavian" refuses.

Meanwhile, "Anthony" believes "Cleopatra" is trying to save herself and not him. Taking his sword in despair, "Anthony" stabs himself in the stomach. Just as "Cleopatra" returns to find her love now dying, but the two are able to reconcile their love before he dies.

"Octavian's" army finally breaches the gates of Alexandria, only to discover that "Cleopatra" has taken her own life by the bite of an asp.

The motion picture was nominated for the "Academy Award for Best Picture", called at the time "Outstanding Production" It won the "Academy Award for Best Cinematography", and was also nominated for a category no longer used, "Best Assistant Director". Along with "Best Film Editing", and, "Best Sound Recording".

One last note:

Claudette Colbert was afraid of snakes and, according to Genevieve McGilliguddy for "Turner Classic Movies", Cecil B. DeMille held off shooting her death sequence as long as possible. At the time of shooting the scene, DeMille walked onto the set with a boa constrictor wrapped around his neck and handed Colbert the tiniest garden snake he could find.

CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA premiered in London, England, on December 11, 1945

His name was George Bernard Shaw, who insisted he just be called "Bernard Shaw". Probably his best-known work, among his many plays, is "Pygmalion", first performed on October 16, 1913. Although the play is still performed as Shaw wrote it. Most people know it as lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Lowe's Broadway musical "My Fair Lady".

Written 15 years prior, and first performed 14 years earlier, then "Pygmalion", on March 15, 1899, was Bernard Shaw's historical drama "Caesar and Cleopatra". Which as he wrote it, became the screenplay for this motion picture. 

There is a term, "overkill", that is used when something goes to the extreme. Look at the "Official Writing Credits" for this motion picture and it reads:

George Bernard Shaw (scenario) (as Bernard Shaw)
George Bernard Shaw (dialogue) (as Bernard Shaw)
George Bernard Shaw (play) (uncredited)
George Bernard Shaw (screenplay) (uncredited)

The motion picture was produced and directed by Gabriel Pascal. Pascal was born in Transylvania, Romania. Besides this picture, he produced the 1938 British classic motion picture version of Shaw's "Pygmalion", starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller, the 1941 British motion picture version of Shaw's "Major Barbara", starring Wendy Hiller and Rex Harrison, and the 1952 United Kingdom and United States co-production of Shaw's "Androcles and the Lion", starring Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, and Alan Young. As a director, besides this motion picture, Gabriel Pascal directed the 1941 "Major Barbara".

The Three Main Roles:"

Vivian Leigh portrayed "Cleopatra". Leigh would bookend this motion picture with the British historical drama, 1941's "That Hamilton Woman", co-starring Sir Laurence Olivier and Alan Mowbray, and Lev (Leo) Tolstoy's 1948 "Anna Karenina", co-starring Sir Ralph Richardson and Kieron Moore.

Claude Rains portrayed "Caesar". Rains would bookend this motion picture with 1945's "This Love of Ours", co-starring Merle Oberon and Charles Korvin, and director Alfred Hitchcock's 1946 "Notorious", co-starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. 

With a shout-out to composer Richard O'Brien's "Rocky Horror Picture Show", my article on Claude Rains' film career, "---CLAUDE RAINS WAS THE INVISIBLE MAN", can be read at:


Stewart Granger portrayed "Apollodorus". Granger bookended this picture with 1945's "Madonna of the Seven Moons", co-starring Phyillis Calvert and Patricia Roc, and 1946's "Caravan", co-starring Jean Kent and Anne Crawford.

Flora Robson portrayed "Flatateeta". Character actress Dame Flora Robson had just co-starred with Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman in 1945's "Saratoga Trunk", and would follow this motion picture with 1946's "The Years Between", co-starring Sir Michael Redgrave and Valerie Hobson.

Above, Flora Robson, with Michael Rennie, director Robert Wise's 1951 "The Day the Earth Stood Still",  as "1st Centurion".

The Play As A Screenplay:

The play is typical Bernard Shaw satire and his victims are two, first, William Shakespeare's use of history, and second, his own 1898 Great Britain. It has been described as:
an exploration of power, politics, vengeance, and mercy.

The play, for that is what this motion picture is, opens with "Caesar" walking in the moonlight and coming upon a Sphinx. His armies have just arrived in Egypt and he is concerned that the country is in a Civil War between "Cleopatra" and her brother "Ptolemy". Sleeping on the paws of the Sphinx is a teenage "Cleopatra", Vivian Leigh was 32-years old at the time, having been driven from Alexandria by her brother, she awakes and sees an old man, Claude Rains was 56-years old, and they start to talk. Not knowing who he is, she tells him about her fear of "Julius Caesar" and the Romans.

"Caesar" returns "Cleopatra" to the palace, reveals his identify, and compels her to stop being a little girl, accept her position as co-ruler of Egypt, and promises to guide her in learning how to properly rule.

Below, 15-years old, "Anthony Harvey" as "Ptolemy", "Cleopatra's" 10-years old brother. Harvey would go on to become a director and was nominated for the "Academy Award" for directing Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole in 1968's "The Lion in Winter".

At a meeting of the two factions, "Caesar" wants both "Cleopatra" and her brother to rule Egypt jointly. Under Egyptian law, the two are married to each other, but the two factions will have none of what "Caesar" wants.

Another problem is the Egyptians threaten military action against the Romans, but that threat doesn't really concern "Caesar". However, also in Egypt is a Roman army of occupation located in another area of the country. It's there from a previous campaign under general "Achillas", played by Anthony Eustrel, and he could be a problem should he assist "Ptolemy" over "Caesar". 

"Julius Caesar" orders his military aide, "Rufio", played by Basil Sidney, to take control of the palace and adjacent theatre to fortify "Caesar's" position in Alexandria. After completing that, "Rufio" is to burn the Egyptian ships on the island of Pharos. Next, "Caesar's" secretary, "Britannus", played by Cecil Parker, declares every non-Roman present in the palace a prisoner of his general. However, "Caesar" allows all who want to leave the palace to go, "Ptolemy" and his followers leave, but "Cleopatra" remains.

"Caesar" wants to form a strategy for ruling Egypt for Rome, or himself, through "Cleopatra", and starts to discuss it with his aides, but a nagging for attention teenage "Cleopatra" starts talking about when she was a 12-years-old girl. She brings up how the handsome "Mark Anthony" restored her father to his throne. This causes "Caesar" to realizes how old he really is and his chances with the young Queen. To keep her quiet, he promises to bring "Anthony" from Rome to Alexandria.

A wounded Roman soldier arrives with news of a battle, and "Rufio" learns that "Achillas" has set fire to the Egyptian ships, but that the fire is burning down the library at Alexandria built by Alexander the Great. However, "Julius Caesar" remarks that the Egyptian firefighters will be diverted from attacking the Romans, giving him an advantage to act now. "Cleopatra" and "Britannus" help "Caesar" into his armor and he leaves for battle.

Move forward in time to a Roman sentential stationed on the quay in front of the Palace. He is looking across the harbor at the lighthouse on Pharos Island, under "Caesar's" control, for any signs of an Egyptian counter attack by "Ptolemy's" forces. 

His watching is interrupted by the arrival of "Cleopatra's" nurse "Ftatatteta" and "Apollodorus the Sicilian". They are accompanied by a large group of porters carrying carpets for "Cleopatra" to choose one for "Caesar".


"Cleopatra" wants to visit the lighthouse and see "Caesar", but is told by the sentinel that she is a prisoner and cannot leave the grounds. "Cleopatra" is outraged and "Apollodorus", as her champion, engages the sentinel in a sword fight, but a centurion arrives and stops it. The centurion advises "Cleopatra" that she can not leave the palace grounds until word is given by "Caesar". Irritated she goes back into the palace to select a carpet to be sent to "Caesar" at the lighthouse. 

"Apollodorus", who is free to travel anywhere, will deliver the chosen carpet to the lighthouse. The porters emerge with an extremely heavy carpet, complaining about its weight, as it is placed in a small boat rented by the Sicilian. Before they start for the island, "Cleopatra's" nurse appears very apprehensive, because she knows "Cleopatra" is wrapped in the chosen carpet. Alerted by "Ftatsteeta's" apprehension, the sentinel attempts to stop the boat, but without success.   

On the island, "Caesar" is in a slump, thinking the Romans will lose the battle, because of his age. "Rufio" gives him some dates to eat, thinking that he is just hungry and his mind is wandering, and "Caesar's" outlook changes. He returns to his normal self, but "Britannus" arrives with a large bag full of incriminating letters from "Pompey's" associates against "Caesar". 

"Pompey" is a Roman general "Caesar" has pursued that has sought protection with "Ptolmey", because of the Roman civil war. However, "Julius Caesar" takes the bag and tosses it into the sea. Claiming it is better to turn one's enemies into friends than waste his time on prosecutions.

The heavy bag of letters hits the boat containing "Apollodorus" and "Cleopatra" and it starts to sink, but he has just enough time to drag the rug with the Queen rolled in it to shore. "Caesar" unrolls the rug and finds "Cleopatra" inside. 

However, "Cleopatra" is again upset, because "Julius Caesar" is more interested in his battle plans than her. Matters become worse as "Britannus" realizes that the Egyptian army has control of the causeway and their only hope is to swim to a Roman galley in the Eastern Harbor. "Apollodorus" dives into the water, "Julius Caesar" follows after telling both "Rufio" and "Britannus" to toss "Cleopatra" into the water so she can hang onto him, next "Rufio" jumps in, but "Britannus" can't swim and is ordered to defend himself until a rescue can be made. A friendly craft soon rescues the swimmers and "Britannus".

Move forward six months, "Cleopatra", "Caesar" and the other Romans are besieged in the place of Alexandra by the Egyptians under the command of her brother "Ptolemy". "Cleopatra" and one of her brother's advisors, the prisoner "Pothinus", played by Francis L. Sullivan, debate who should rule Egypt, herself, or her brother. They stop so she can be the hostess at a banquet for "Caesar" and his lieutenants. While, "Pothinus" goes to "Caesar" calling "Cleopatra" a traitor, who is only using him to gain the Egyptian throne. After hearing about what "Pothinus" told "Caesar", "Cleopatra" orders her nurse, "Ftatateeta" to kill him.

The world-weary "Julius Caesar" suggests that he and "Cleopatra" take a leisurely trip on the Nile to seek out some unnamed city. She is very enthusiastic over the idea, agrees to name the city, and goes to  seek out help from the Nile God, her favorite. Then a scream is heard followed by a thud, "Ponthinus" has been murdered! As a result, the Egyptians, both in the army and civilians, are enraged by his death, and storm the palace, because he was a hero to them. "Cleopatra" claims responsibility for the murder and "Caesar" lectures her on her shortsighted vengeance, because his clemency toward "Ponthinus" and the other prisoners had kept the Egyptians at bay.

It appears they're doomed, but then word that reinforcements under "Mithridates II of Bosporus" has engaged the Egyptian army. "Caesar" draws up battle plans and leaves to speak to his troops. As this is going on, "Rufio" realizes the murderer was "Ftatateeta" and kills her. Left alone, "Cleopatra" discovers her nurse's body and becomes depressed.

 Later, "Caesar" prepares to leave for Rome, his forces have swept "Ptolemy's" armies into the Nile, and "Ptolemy" has drowned when his barge overturned. "Cleopatra" is now the unopposed Queen of Egypt. "Rufio" is made governor, "Britannus" is offered freedom for the army, but declines to stay with "Caesar". While, "Cleopatra" wears mourning clothes for the loss of her nurse.


"Cleopatra" accuses "Rufio" of murder and he defends himself saying that it was not for the sake of punishment, revenge or justice. He killed the nurse without malice, because she was a potential menace. However, to appease "Cleopatra", "Julius Caesar" approves his execution.


"Cleopatra" remains unforgiving until "Caesar" promises to send for "Mark Anthony".

The production was slowed down, because of war time restrictions in England. Vivian Leigh was pregnant at the time and tripped causing her to miscarry. The production had to shut down for five weeks while she recovered, but this also led to the actress's manic depression. 

There were two running times for the motion picture, the United Kingdom's release ran two-hours-and-eight minutes, while the United States release ran two-hours-and-three minutes. I could not locate what five minutes was cut from the film for the United States release.


Harry "King" Cohn, the owner and founder of "Columbia Pictures", was known for turning out quick and cheap motion pictures. This motion picture has several people connected with it that became major names in either motion pictures, or television.

Cohn had entrusted the picture to producer Sam Katzman, who among his Cliff Hangers were 1948's "Superman", 1949's "Batman and Robin", 1950's "Atom Man vs Superman", and 1951's "Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere". My article, "Superman Meets the Giant Claw to the Tunes of Bill Haley and the Comets: Executive Producer Sam Katzman", will be found at:


Sam Katzman in turn, assigned director William Castle to the production. In 1958, with his motion picture "Macabre", he became the "Gimmick King". My article, "A Tale of WILLIAM CASTLE the Motion Picture 'GIMMICK KING", is available for reading at:


The story and screenplay was by Robert E. Kent. Kent was a "B" drama and action writer, his work included the 1941 mystery "The Case of the Black Parrot", starring William Lundigan, 1941's "Bad Men of Missouri", starring Dennis Morgan, Jane Wyman, and Wayne Morris, 1942's "The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe", starring Linda Darnell and Shepperd Strudwick, 1945's "Zombies on Broadway", starring Bela Lugosi, and 1947's "Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome", starring Ralph Byrd and Boris Karloff.

There is no "Julius Caesar" in this motion picture, because this is after his assassination.

The Three Main Roles and Two Interesting Minor Ones:

Rhonda Fleming portrayed "Cleopatra". The Flaming Red Head wore a black wig, Fleming had just co-starred with Ronald Reagan in 1953's "Tropic Zone" and would follow this picture with the overlooked western, "Pony Express", co-starring with Charlton Heston as "Buffalo Bill Cody", Jan Sterling, and Forest Tucker as "Wild Bill Hickok".

Above, Fleming in the movie and below a French movie magazine with a article about the movie with a cover photo of the actress without the wig.

William Lundigan portrayed "Lucilius". He had just been in 1952's "Down Among the Sheltering Palms", a musical co-starring Jane Greer and Mitzi Gaynor. Lundigan followed this picture with the 
3-D "Inferno", co-starring Robert Ryan and Rhonda Fleming. From 1959 into 1960, William Lundigan co-starred with Joyce Taylor, George Pal's 1961 "Atlantis the Lost Continent", and Charles Herbert, William Castle's 1960 original "13 Ghosts", on the excellent one-season television series, "Men Into Space".

Raymond Burr portrayed "Marcus Antonius". Burr had 4th billing in director Fritz Lang's 1953 "The Blue Gardenia", behind Anne Baxter, Richard Conte, and Ann Sothern. He would follow this feature with 1953's "Tarzan and the She-Devil", starring Lex Barker and Joyce Mackenzie. My article, "RAYMOND BURR BEFORE 'PERRY MASON': Film-Noirs, 'B' Westerns, A Certain Monster and the Queen of the Nile", is at:


Michael Ansara portrayed "Captain Florus". Syrian born Ansara had his first on-screen role, uncredited, in the George Sanders and Virginia Bruce 1944 "Action in Arabia". In 1955 he was "Charlie" in "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy", and from 1956 through 1958, he portrayed the Native American Chief, "Cochise", in the television series "Broken Arrow".

Julie Newmar as Julie Newmeyer portrayed "The Gilded Girl". She was the future television's "Catwoman" on "Batman", 1966 through 1967. 

A Brief Overview of the Story:

It is 44 BC and "Julius Caesar" has been assassinated and "Mark Anthony" is in Egypt with "Cleopatra". "Anthony's" close friend "Lucilius" having witnessed the Queen with both "Caesar" and his friend, believes "Cleopatra" to be a skilled manipulator of men to seize more power. Specially, to make the blind to reality "Mark Anthony" help her become Queen of Rome and her son heir to the throne.

"Lucilius" is concerned that "Anthony" and "Cleopatra" are ignoring the people of Egypt. Who are suffering from hunger and poverty under their rule. 

With his friend not showing any interest in the people he's supposed to protect, "Lucilius" approaches "Cleopatra" with his concerns. Only to have her attempt, unsuccessfully, to seduce him and bring "Anthony's" friend to her side.

"Cleopatra" convinces "Anthony" that all the discontent among the Egyptian people is being caused by her younger half-sister "Arsinoe". "Cleopatra" has "Anthony" send "Lucilus" against her half-sister and "Arsinoe" is killed. On the expedition, "Lucilus" is wounded by one of "Cleopatra's" soldier's and he becomes more distrustful of the Queen.

When the expedition returns, "Lucilius" becomes "Cleopatra's" "Honored Guest", in other words, he's under house arrest. While "Mark Anthony" continues to have his judgement clouded by what he believes is "Cleopatra's" love of him. 

The screenplay never shows, but implies that there is sexual contact between "Anthony" and "Cleopatra". 

"Mark Anthony" dimly realizes that he has failed in his duties to Rome and the ruling triumvirate that he is a part of, and as "Lucilius" warned him. "Cleopatra" is using him as part of her plan to conquer Rome, placing herself on the throne and  "Caesar's" son as the first "absolute ruler of the Roman Empire".  


"Anthony" knows the Romans will not accept such an act, and helps "Lucilius" to escape Egypt, instructing him to go to "Octavian", played by Michael Fox. As a result, "Octavian" brings a large Roman army to put down the mutiny.

Above, Michael Fox's "Octavian" is speaking to William Lundigan's "Lucilius".

"Mark Anthony's" conscience will not let him lead the Egyptian army against Roman soldiers and he decides to remain within the palace. 

"Octavian's" forces surround the palace grounds, and "Mark Anthony" stabs himself for his sins against Rome. "Lucilius" and his men breach the palace gates, enter the palace proper, find the dying "Anthony" and takes him to "Cleopatra", where he dies in her arms. 

In frustration and reflecting upon what she has done, "Cleopatra" uses a snake to kill herself, before "Octavian" can enter her private chambers. The motion picture does not show her dying.


This is an Italian comedy centering around "Cleopatra" and her double.

Sophia Loren portrayed "Cleopatra" and "Nisca". Loren was still thirteen pictures away from her first American film, 1957's "Boy on a Dolphin" co-starring Alan Ladd and Clifton Webb. My article on Sophia Loren's move to English language motion pictures, "Sophia Loren: '1957" will be read at:


Above, Sophia Loren meets Sophia Loren.

Alberto Sordi portrayed "Cesarino". Comedian Sordi was extremely popular in Italy from 1937 through 1998. His first English language movie was 1957's version of Ernest Hemmingway's "A Farewell to Arms", starring Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones. Besides his 152 acting roles, Sordi wrote 46 screenplays, and directed 16 movies.

The above autographed photo is Loren as the blonde "Nisca" with Alberto Sordi's '"Cesarino".

A Short Look at the Thin Comic Plot:

This is a typical "bedroom sex farce" of the 1950's and 1960's and has nothing to do with any actual historical events and was very dated.

"Queen Cleopatra" is married to "Emperor Mark Anthony", but her sex drive is on overdrive. When he's away, "Cleopatra" has a soldier spend the night with her and the following morning he is poisoned to keep her secret from "Mark Anthony".

Enter the bumbling "Cesarino", come to Alexandria to serve on "Cleopatra's" army staff. 

He is picked to spend a night with the Queen, but "Emperor Mark Anthony" returns and encamps outside of Alexandria and the Queen secretly leaves to join her husband in bed.

While "Cleopatra" is secretly away from the palace, she has her double, the prisoner in the palace's dungeon, "Nisca", cover for her absence.

 As ordered, on the same night "Cleopatra" goes to "Anthony", "Cesarino" arrives at the Queen's bed chamber. What is interesting is he fails to see that the "Raven Haired Cleopatra" is now a blonde and believes her to be the real Queen. However, what "Cesarino" also finds is a sad and fragile girl and not the powerful and feared Queen.

The second night of the story has "Cesarino", thinking he is going to see "Nisca", who he still thinks is "Cleopatra", going to the Queen's bed chamber to just say "Hello", but is arrested for planning to injure the real "Cleopatra". 

However, intrigued by the fact that "Cesarino" wears an identical ring to hers, "Cleopatra" has him freed and they will spend the night together. However, she warns him that, if they do, he will die the following morning.

Gags keep coming and then in true comedy style, "Cesarino" manages to get himself drunk, get away from "Cleopatra", find the imprisoned "Nisca", free her and the two get away from Rome to start a happy life together. 

Being a Italian motion picture there was nudity and below the 20-years-old Sophia Loren in a scene reminiscent of Claudette Colbert's from 1934, but without the milk.

What Cecil B. DeMille did in black and white in 1934, with a running time of one-hour-and-forty-minutes. Joseph L. Mankiewicz recreated the same story, in wide screen TODD-AO, Technicolor, and with a running time of four-hours-and-eleven-minutes plus an intermission.

CLEOPATRA premiered in New York City on June 12, 1963

The motion picture was produced by Walter Wanger, more later.

The motion picture was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. His previous motion picture as a director was 1959s "Suddenly Last Summer", starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift. Mankiewicz only directed 22 motion pictures, but co-wrote 69 screenplays, and produced 23.

Like DeMille's production, the screenplay was based upon the histories of ancient Greek and Roman writers. As with the 1934 screenplay, Plutarch was used, but additionally the works of Roman historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius, and Greco-Roman historian Appianus Alexandrinus, known as Appian of Alexandria.

The credits also list Italian author Carlo Maria Franzero's biographical work, 1957's, "The Life and Times of Cleopatra".

The primary writer of the screenplay was Joseph L. Mankiewicz. His previous two screenplays were 1958's "The Quiet American" starring Audie Murphy and Sir Michael Redgrave, and 1955's "Guys and Dolls" starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, and Jean Simmons.

There were two other credited screenplay writers:

The first writer was Ranald MacDougall. Among his screenplays were Joan Crawford's 1945 "Mildred Pierce", and Errol Flynn's 1945 "Objective Burma". In 1950, MacDougall wrote "Bright Leaf" starring Gary Cooper, Lauren Bacall, and Patricia Neal, and in 1954, he would write producer George Pal's "The Naked Jungle" starring Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker. 

The second writer was Sidney Buchman, who wrote Cecil B. DeMille's 1932, "The Sign of the Cross" starring Frederic March, Claudette Colbert, and Charles Laughton. In 1938, Buchman wrote "Holliday" starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, in 1938 it was "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, and Claude Rains, and in 1939, "The Howards of Virginia" starring Cary Grant, Martha Scott, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

There also was one uncredited screenplay writer, playwright Ben Hecht. Who over his career wrote the classic newspaper play 1931's "The Front Page", the screenplay for the original 1932 "Scarface" starring Paul Muni and Ann Dvorak, 1934's "Viva Villa" starring Wallace Beery and Fay Wray, 1935's "Barbary Coast" starring Miriam Hopkins, Edward G. Robinson and Joel McCrea, 1939 "Wuthering Heights" starring Merle Oberon, Sir Laurence Olivier, and David Niven, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1946, "Notorious" starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

The Road to This Screenplay:

Producer Walter Wangler, who was the "Presenter (aka: Executive Producer)" of John Ford's 1939 "Stagecoach", producer of 1938's "Algiers" starring Charles Boyer, and Hedy Lamarr, producer of Alfred Hithcock's 1940 "Foreign Correspondent" starring Joel McCrea, 1945's "Salome, Where She Danced" starring Yvonne DeCarlo, and the Ingrid Bergman and Jose Ferrer 1948 "Joan of Arc", wanted to make a motion picture about "Cleopatra". This desire went back to his days as an undergraduate of "Dartmouth College". 

In 1951, after watching "A Place in the Sun", starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters, Walter Wangler found his candidate for the role of "Cleopatra", Taylor. Without speaking to Elizabeth Taylor, Wangler started pitching his story idea to the studios, among them Monogram and RKO, but no studio was interested.

However, something came up in his personal life that delayed the proposed motion picture. A hired private detective confirmed that Wangler's wife, actress Joan Bennett, 1947's "The Macomber Affair" co-starring Gregory Peck and playing Elizabeth Taylor's mother in 1950's "Father of the Bride" co-starring Spencer Tracy and the sequel 1951's "Father's Little Dividend", was having an affair with producer Jennings Lang.

On December 13, 1951, spotting his wife with Lang on the "Music Corporation of America (MCA)" lot, Wangler shot Jennings Lang twice not killing him. Walter Wangler pleaded insanity, and would spend four months at the "Castaic Honor Farm" in Castaic, California.

After his release, Wangler went back to producing and funded the classic science fiction with Senator Joseph McCarthy Era undertones, 1956's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", and 1958's "I Want to Live" starring Susan Hayward, Oscar winner for Best Actress, in the story of real-life prostitute "Barbara Graham". 

Back at the start of 1958, Wangler had approached Elizabeth Taylor about portraying "Cleopatra" and found the actress interested, but she wanted her husband Mike Todd to make the decision. "I Want to Live" would start to be filmed on March 24, 1958, but two days prior Mike Todd was killed in a plane crash and the project with Taylor was once again off.

While this was going on, "20th Century Fox" was having financial problems, three motion pictures released in 1958 were all box office failures. The films were "The Roots of Heaven" starring Errol Flynn and Trevor Howard, "A Certain Smile" starring Rossano Brazzi and Joan Fontaine, and "The Barbarian and the Geisha" starring John Wayne from director John Huston. 

I can't speak to the first two failures, but I cover the butchering of director John Huston's film in my article, "JOHN HUSTON: 'Moby Dick' 1956, 'The Barbarian and the Geisha' 1958, 'Freud: the Secret Passion' 1962, and 'The List of Adrian Messenger' 1963", at:


"20th Century Fox's" troubles was perfect timing for Walter Wangler, as the studio's president, Spyros Skouras had told executive David Brown  to find him a big  picture to make back the lost box office. Unbeknownst to Wangler was that Brown had suggested a remake of the Theda Bara 1917 "Cleopatra".

Among four film ideas Walter Wangler pitched to David Brown was his "Cleopatra" and the go ahead was given.

On September 15, 1958, Wangler purchased the screen rights to the Franzero biography, and in December, Ludi Claire, a former actress and screenplay writer was hired to update the 1917 screenplay, which was basically only camera placement directions, for the new production. In March 1959, English psychologist and author Nigel Balchin was hired to write another script draft.

Additionally, Skouras hired Rouben Mamoulian, 1931's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" starring Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins, and 1940's "Mark of Zorro" starring Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell, and Basil Rathbone, to direct the new movie.

While the above was going, a small battle over the leading actress started. In October 1958, "20th Century Fox" production head, Buddy Adler, was thinking cheap to help recoup their losses and suggested several contract actresses. Joan Collins, who portrayed "Princess Nellifer" in "Warner Brothers" 1955 big budgeted "Land of the Pharaohs", made several test films. Adler's next two choices were Joanne Woodward and Suzy Parker, but Wangler wanted a more voluptuous actress and suggested Susan Hayward, Sophia Loren, and Gina Lollobrigida. Everyone was surprised when they heard that Mamoulian had offered the role to Dorothy Dandridge, but like the others didn't pan out

It was now September of 1959, and Walter Wangler went back to Elizabeth Taylor who was on the set for "Suddenly, Last Summer" and being directed by Joseph Mankiewicz. Wangler wanted to know what it would take to have her on the motion picture. He got his answer, in what was for the 1950's a record-setting contract. Elizabeth Taylor calmly asked for one-million-dollars and ten percent of the box office gross and got it.

Both Elizabeth Taylor and director Rouben Mamoulian didn't like the current screenplay. Mamoulian approached television drama writer Dale Wasserman to complete the final draft and focus all the screenplays attention of "Cleopatra". The only motion picture experience he had at the time was adapting Edison Marshall's novel "The Viking" for the screenplay on producer and star Kirk Douglas' 1958 motion picture "The Vikings". 

In April 1960, Buddy Adler entered into an agreement with Italian producer Lionello Santi to film in Italy. On the 20th, Santi took out a full-page ad in "Variety" announcing "his" upcoming production and didn't mention "20th Century Fox" at all, angering Adler. Mamoulian had gone to scout locations in Italy, reported back that he didn't like them and besides the "Summer Olympics" were going to be on during filming in Rome. Adler moved the production to the United Kingdom's "Pinewood Studio". 

Also in the Spring of 1960, English novelist Lawrence Durrell was hired to rewrite the entire screenplay once again.

Then on July 11, 1960, Buddy Adler died of cancer and the production was turned over to Robert Goldstein. On July 15th in a memo to Goldstein, Walter Wangler warned that filming in England could be hazardous to Elizabeth Taylor's know frail health, but he was ignored.

On July 28, 1960, Elizabeth Taylor signed her real contract and the amounts had "Variety", "The Hollywood Reporter" and local film critics in disbelief.

In August 1960, Stephen Boyd was cast as "Mark Anthony", and Peter Finch as "Julius Caesar". 

Above, Stephen Boyd as "Mark Anthony", and below, Peter Finch as "Julius Caesar".



Principle photography began at Pinewood on September 28, 1960, and Elizabeth Taylor shot a scene in 40-degree weather and fell sick with a sore throat and by doctor's orders could not work for two-weeks. However, scenes with Boyd and Finch were shot around Taylor. Her cold became a severe fever, it reached 103 degrees and turned into meningitis, and on November 19th, Walter Wrangler indefinitely postponed shooting.

Enter screenplay writer Nunally Johnson, director John Ford's 1936's "The Prisoner of Shark Island" starring Warner Baxter, Ford's  1940's "The Grapes of Wrath" starring Henry Fonda, and Ford's 1941 "Tobacco Road" starring Gene Tierney. Nunally Johnson proceeded to write a 75-page-draft about "Cleopatra" and "Julius Caesar" that was very similar to Cecil B. DeMille's 1934 motion picture.

Filming finally resumed on January 18, 1961, but both Taylor and Mamoulian were dissatisfied with Johnson's screenplay. After sixteen-weeks of filming, costing the studio seven-million-dollars, all Rouben Mamoulian had to show for it was ten-minutes of film. He was fired and Elizabeth Taylor demanded either one of two directors she had worked previously with and Joseph L. Mankiewicz was hired, the other was George Stevens, with Taylor 1951's "A Place in the Sun" and 1956's "Giant" with Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean.

By February 1961, Mankiewicz envisioned a story with "Mark Anthony" being self-destructive, because he cannot compete with "Julius Caesar" and he becomes the new focus of the screenplay. Within a month, both Lawrence Durrell and Sidney Buchman were hired and started writing another new screenplay, but by April, Durrell was out and Ranald MacDougall hired by Wangler. Mankiewicz had asked for either playwrights Lillian Hellman, or Paul Osborn. 

Filming was set to resume on April 4, 1961, but on March 4th, Elizabeth Taylor was hospitalized for pneumonia and Spyrous Skouras suspended production at the British Pinewood Studio. After agreeing with Mankiewicz, the film was moved to Rome, Italy's, "Cinecitta Studios", that Rouben Mamoulian had turned down.

However, there had been cast changes, both Boyd and Finch now had previous commitments, and of course changes in the final screenplay.

The Main Cast for 1963's "Cleopatra":

Elizabeth Taylor portrayed "Cleopatra". Taylor would bookend this feature with 1960's "Butterfield 8" co-starring with Lawrence Harvey and her fourth husband, Eddie Fisher. After "Cleopatra" it would be 1963's "The V.I.P.'s" co-starring her fifth husband, Ricard Burton. I previously mentioned Liz Taylor's third husband Mike Todd, and if my reader is interested in such things? My article, "The '7' Husbands of Elizabeth Taylor" will be found at:


Richard Burton portrayed "Mark Anthony". Burton had been part of the epic cast of Daryl F. Zanuck's Second World War film based upon writer Cornelius Ryan's "The Longest Day" in 1962. He would follow this picture with the "V.I.P.'s".

Joseph L. Mankiewicz had suggested Marlon Brando for the role of "Anthony", but Elizabeth Taylor had seen Richard Burton opposite Julie Andrews in the Broadway Lerner and Lowe musical "Camelot", and suggested Burton.

Rex Harrison portrayed "Caius Julius Caesar". Harrison had last been seen in 1961's "The Happy Thieves" co-starring Rita Hayworth and Joseph Wiseman. He would follower this picture by recreating his Broadway role of "Professor Henry Higgins" in the 1964 musical feature film, "My Fair Lady".


Both Sir Laurence Olivier and Trevor Howard turned down the role of "Caesar" and actually Harrison was the studio's fourth choice, but I could not locate who number three was.

Roddy McDowall portrayed "Octavian--Caesar Augustus". McDowall had also just appeared in 1962's "The Longest Day" and would follow this picture with an episode, "Journey into Darkness" on the forgotten 1963 television series, "Arrest and Trial". Roddy McDowall also was in "Camelot" with Burton.

When the main actors names for "Cleopatra" were submitted by "20th Century Fox" to the "Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences" for award consideration. Because of a clerical error, Roddy McDowall was listed as in a leading role rather than his supporting role of "Octavian". The "Academy" refused to correct the error brought to their attention. As a result, it cost him a nomination for an "Oscar", that the studio and film critics felt he would have won.

An Overview of the Screenplay:

The "original directors cut" of the motion picture was "five-hours-and-twenty-minutes" and Joseph L. Mankiewicz wanted to present the feature in two-parts, "Caesar and Cleopatra" and "Anthony and Cleopatra", but "20th Century Fox" refused his request. The final road show cut, depending upon the source, is either my previously mentioned four-hours-and-eleven-minutes, or, four-hours-and-three-minutes plus intermission.

As I also alluded to above, no matter how long you make the motion picture, and how spectacular the scenes. When you use the same Greek and Greco-Roman writers for your main source that Cecil B. DeMille used, the story basically remains the same as 1934's "Cleopatra" with slight changes. A fact discovered by Nunally Johnson and not accepted by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
Speaking to that final screenplay, there was a planned massive battle sequence between "Anthony and his Egyptian Army" and "Augustus Caesar and his Roman army", which was never filmed, because the film makers had finally run out of money. 

The screenplay opens after the "Battle of Pharsalus", August 9, 48 BC, in Greece, a part of the "Roman Civil War led by several Senators with the help of Roman general "Pompey", who was defeated and fled into Egypt on sanctuary offer from "Ptolemy XIII".

In the deepest Egyptian desert, "Cleopatra" and "Apollodorus", played by Caesar Danova, are prisoners under a detail of soldiers led by "Pothinus", played by Gregoire Aslan, with orders from her brother "Ptolemy XIII" to leave them there to die.

A short time later "Julius Caesar" comes to Egypt, under the pretext of the will left by the father of "Ptolemy XIII and his sister "Cleopatra". "Caesar" is to be the executor of the estate and he is met by "Pothinus" at the docks and escorted to the young ruler.

Above to Rex Harrison's immediate left is Martin Landau portraying "Rufio", and to Harrison's far right is Andrew Keir portraying "Agrippa".

Above is "Ptolemy XIII", played by Richard O'Sullivan.", below he meets "Julius Caesar".

In front of the Egyptian people, "Caesar" is presented with a jar accompanied by two Nubian slaves and, to a shocked "Julius Caesar", they pull out "Pompey's" head.

"Ptolemy" was misled that killing the Roman general would please "Julius Caesar" and make him ruler of all Egypt. Instead, "Caesar" puts down the young Egyptian ruler for such an act of evil. "Ptolemy", his advisors, "Caesar" and his, retire to the royal audience chamber. One person is missing and "Caesar" wants to know why "Cleopatra" isn't there to greet him? "Pothinus" gives him an evasive answer, as "Apollodorus" walks in carrying a large carpet for the Roman general.

From the unrolled carpet appears "Cleopatra" and she tells "Caesar" what took place. 

"Ptolemy XIII" is banished to the eastern desert and certain death from "Mithridates II of the Bosporus", an ally of "Caesar", and "Pothinus" is sentenced to immediate execution.

Now firmly in control of the country, or is he? As "Queen Cleopatra" requests that "Gaius Julius Caesar" make her Queen of all Egypt. "Cleopatra" is crowned and starts to develop dreams of ruling the entire world beside "Caesar". Who, in turn, has a dream of becoming the first "King of the Roman Empire".

Above, "Queen Cleopatra" and her primary advisor "Apollodorus the Sicilian", below, "Caesar" and "Cleopatra".

"Caesar" and "Cleopatra" now marry, although he is still married to "Calpurnia", played by Gwen Watford, and the couple will have a child, they name "Caesarian". 

Under the pushing of "Cleopatra" in a public setting, "Julius Caesar" accepts "Caesarian" as his own, making the boy, under Roman law, a legal heir. When word of this gets back to the Roman Senate, it further infuriates certain Senators against "Gaius Julius Caesar".

"Caesar" returns to Rome and becomes "dictator for life" and a group of Senator's now plan his assassination as "Queen Cleopatra" and "Julius Caesar's" son arrive in Rome.

"Cleopatra" seems popular with the Roman populace and "Caesar" spends some quiet time with his son and his Egyptian wife as he seemingly spurns his Roman wife, "Calpurnia".

The Roman Senate know hears rumors that not satisfied with the title of "Dictator for Life", "Gaius Julius Caesar" now wants to be crowned "King!" The plan to assassinate "Caesar" gains more support.

Above front, John Hoyt as "Caius Cassius Longinus" and "Publius Servilius Casca", played by Carrol O'Connor.

"Caesar" is famously warned by a soothsayer to "Beware the Ides of March", but goes to the Senate and is assassinated.

The conspirators, led by "Marcus Junius Brutus", played by Kenneth Haigh, and "Caius Cassius Longinus", flee Rome starting a rebellion. A alliance of necessity is formed between "Caesar's" adopted son, "Octavian", "Mark Anthony", and "Marcus Ameilius Lepidus", I could not locate the actor's name who played this role, and they pursue and kill the conspiracy leaders, but cause a split in the Roman republic.

"Cleopatra" expects her son to become the new Roman emperor, but becomes enraged when she learns that "Julius Caesar's" will recognizes "Octavian" as his "Official Heir". "The Egyptian High Priestess", played by Pamela Brown, advises the Queen that they must flee in the night, because the Romans are blaming her for "Caesar's" death. "Cleopatra" leaves and returns to Egypt with "Caesarian".

The Eend of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's proposed "Part One". Which would have been longer in the five-hour plus version, if it had been released as such. But even in the shorten version this was the point of the "Intermission".

"Mark Anthony" is planning a campaign against the "Parthian Empire" aka: the "Arsacid Empire" in northeast Iran, but needs money and supplies that only Egypt can give him. However, "Cleopatra" refuses to meet with in, but after several requests, she agrees to a meeting on her royal barge in Tarsus.

Instead of getting the money and supplies "Anthony" requires, as planned by the Queen, the two start a love affair. During which "Cleopatra" assures "Mark Anthony" that he is not a pale reflection of "Gaius Julius Caesar", but a man who could rule both Egypt and Rome. 

In this film, Joseph L. Mankiewicz even out does showman Cecil B. DeMille's Claudette Colbert's bath scene at different times.

However, events in Rome overtake "Cleopatra's" plans, as "Octavian" removes "Lepidus" to consolidate his own power base and this forces "Anthony's" return. Back in Rome and to keep the peace with "Octavian", "Anthony" marries his co-ruler's sister "Octavia", played by Jean Marsh. 

This causes "Cleopatra's" to become violently angry and she sends word to "Anthony" of her displeasure with him. He now divorces "Octavia" to rejoin his Egyptian lover, whom he now marries, and the seeds of war have been planted.

Appearing in the Roman Senate, "Octavian", reads the will left by "Mark Anthony" to the assembled senators. In it, "Anthony" requests that he be buried in Egypt and not Rome. That request ads force  to "Octavian's" call for war against Egypt and "Cleopatra". After its overwhelming approval, "Octavian" meets with "Agrippa" on the plan of battle.


While in Egypt, "Caesarian" presides over the royal court as both his mother and "Mark Anthony" look on.

"Anthony" is given leadership of the Egyptian army and navies and meets the Romans under "Agrippa" at the "Battle of Actium".  "Cleopatra" on her own warship observes the battle from a safe distance.

As fierce as the battle has become and with the obvious victory coming for "Agrippa". "Cleopatra" presumes "Anthony" has been killed, but he has not and still fights. However, she orders the remaining Egyptian forces back to Egypt and "Anthony" now deserts his command to be with her. 

Several months later, "Octavian" and his army are advancing toward "Alexandria" and "Cleopatra" sends "Caesarian" to the eastern Egyptian lands to lead that army against the Romans. "Cleopatra" convinces "Anthony" to take command of the remaining Egyptian army in Alexandria. He meets with the only Roman left following him, "Rufio", and the two go to the Egyptian encampment.

However, at the sight of the large Roman army, "Anthony's" abandons him during the night and "Rufio" commits suicide. "Anthony" goes to "Octavian" in an attempt to goad his one time friend into single combat to settle the war, but is refused and flees for his safety back to Alexandria.

Entering the palace, "Anthony" meets "Apollodorus", who believes the other is not worthy of his Queen and lies that she is dead. "Anthony" pulls out his sword and falls on it. "Apollodourus" not expecting this reaction admits he lied to "Anthony" and helps the dying Roman to the tomb in which "Cleopatra" is hiding in. "Mark Anthony" now dies in the arms of his love.

"Octavian" marches into Alexandria with the body of "Caesarian" in a wagon and enters the palace. He discovers the body of "Apollodorus", who took poison, and is informed of the death of "Mark Anthony" and the location of "Cleopatra". "Octavian" now offers to permit "Cleopatra" to rule Egypt as a province of Rome. Knowing that her son is dead, "Cleopatra" agrees to "Octavian's" terms, and makes an empty pledge not to harm herself. After "Octavian" leaves, she uses coded language requesting her servants help in her suicide.

"Octavian" discovers that "Cleopatra" is going to kill herself, with his guard they burst into her chamber, only to find her dead with the asp that she used.

Historical Cleopatra Facts:

Cleopatra died on August 10, 30 BC. at the age of 39. She actually had four children, one by Gaius Julius Caesar, Caesarian, and three by Mark Anthony, Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene II, and Ptolemy Philadelphus. All three would be adopted by "Octavia".

It should be noted that both the 1934 and 1963 motion pictures use Ptolemy XIII as Cleopatra's co-ruler that Julius Caesar exiles. That is partially correct, as Ptolemy XIII was told not to be in Alexandria when Gaius Julius Caesar arrived, but instead awaited Caesar at the head of the Egyptian army. 

The Egyptian Pharaoh hoping to please Caesar, who was in a civil war led by Roman General Pompey. Had falsely offered Pompey sanctuary in Egypt. Now, with Julius Caesar arriving, Ptolemy on September 29, 48 BC ordered Pompey beheaded and presented Pompey's head to Julius Caesar. Instead of being pleased, Caesar had the body of Pompey located and given a proper Roman burial.

Ptolemy VIII and his army fled and joined with his and Cleopatra's older sister, Arsinoe IV, not younger as "Serpent of the Nile" had her. Arsinoe IV was also claiming the throne of Egypt and with her brother, the two continued a civil war against Cleopatra that had been started by Ptolemy VIII. When he and Pothinus forced Cleopatra to flee to Syria, but there she formed an army, that included Apollodorus, of her own and returned to Egypt to put down her brother and sisters army. 

After Julius Caesar arrived and the Egyptian civil war was restarted. That lead to a series of skirmishes between the forces of Arsinoe IV and Ptolemy VIII against the forces of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. During the "Siege of Alexandra", the "Library of Alexandra" founded by Alexander the Great, was set on fire. That siege was followed by "The Battle of the Nile" and during it, Ptolemy VIII fell overboard from a small boat, on January 13, 47 BC, and drowned. 

Arsinoe IV would be captured by Caesar's soldiers and should have been put to death, but was spared. Arsinoe IV had received the sympathy from the Roman crowd and was granted sanctuary. Her new sentence was to live out her life in the "Temple of Atremis in Ephesus". However, at the wish of Cleopatra, Mark Anthony murdered her older sister on the temple steps sometime in 41 BC.

At the time of Julius Caesar's arrival, Ptolemy XIII was 15-years-old, and with his death, his younger brother, Ptolemy XIV became Pharaoh of Egypt. Like his older brother, under Egyptian royal law he was wed to his sister Cleopatra. At the time of their wedding he was 12-years-old, his reign was in name only, as Cleopatra and Julius Caesar ruled Egypt. This brother/sister arrangement continued when Mark Anthony became Ptolemy XIV's sister/wife's lover. He died on July 26, 44 BC and his successor and new Pharaoh of Egypt was Caesarian. Casarian, at age 17, was killed in late August 30 BC, the exact date in August is unknown.

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