Cleopatra is a 1963 American epic historical drama film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, with a screenplay adapted by Mankiewicz, Ranald MacDougall and Sidney Buchman from the book The Life and Times of Cleopatra by Carlo Maria Franzero, and from histories by Plutarch, Suetonius, and Appian. It stars Elizabeth Taylor in the eponymous role. Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowall, and Martin Landau are featured in supporting roles. It chronicles the struggles of Cleopatra, the young Queen of Egypt, to resist the imperial ambitions of Rome.
The film achieved notoriety during its production for its massive cost overruns and production troubles, which included changes in director and cast, a change of filming locale, sets that had to be constructed twice, lack of a firm shooting script, and personal scandal around co-stars Taylor and Burton. It was the most expensive film ever made up to that point and almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox.
Cleopatra was the highest-grossing film of 1963, earning box-office of $57.7 million in the United States and Canada (equivalent to $472 million in 2018), yet lost money due to its production and marketing costs of $44 million (equivalent to $360 million in 2018), making it the only film ever to be the highest-grossing film of the year to run at a loss. It received nine nominations at the 36th Academy Awards including for Best Picture and won the following four : Best Production Design (Color), Best Cinematography (Color), Best Visual Effects and Best Costume Design (Color).
Original theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joseph L. Mankiewicz|
|Produced by||Walter Wanger|
|Based on||The Life and Times of Cleopatra|
by C.M. Franzero
by Plutarch, Suetonius, and Appian
|Music by||Alex North|
|Edited by||Dorothy Spencer|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation|
|Box office||$57.8 million (US)|
After the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) goes to Egypt, under the pretext of being named the executor of the will of the young Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Richard O'Sullivan) and his sister Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor)'s father.
Cleopatra convinces Caesar to restore her throne from her younger brother. Caesar, in effective control of the kingdom, sentences Pothinus (Gregoire Aslan) to death for arranging an assassination attempt on Cleopatra, and banishes Ptolemy to the eastern desert, where he and his outnumbered army would face certain death against Mithridates. Cleopatra is crowned Queen of Egypt, and begins to develop megalomaniacal dreams of ruling the world with Caesar, who in turn desires to become King of Rome. They marry, and when their son Caesarion is born, Caesar accepts him publicly, which becomes the talk of Rome and the Senate.
After he is made dictator for life, Caesar sends for Cleopatra. She arrives in Rome in a lavish procession and wins the adulation of the Roman people. The Senate grows increasingly discontented amid rumors that Caesar wishes to be made king, which is anathema to the Romans. On the Ides of March in 44 BC, a group of conspirators assassinate Caesar and flee the city, starting a rebellion. An alliance between Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, Mark Antony (Richard Burton), Caesar's right-hand man and general as well as Marcus Ameilius Lepidus put down the rebellion and split up the republic between themselves. Cleopatra is angered after Caesar's will recognizes Octavian instead of Caesarion as his official heir, and angrily returns to Egypt.
While planning a campaign against Parthia in the east, Antony realizes he needs money and supplies, and cannot get enough from anywhere but Egypt. After refusing several times to leave Egypt, Cleopatra gives in and meets him in Tarsus. The two begin a love affair, with Cleopatra assuring Antony that he is much more than a pale reflection of Caesar.
Octavian's removal of Lepidus forces Antony to return to Rome, where he marries Octavian's sister, Octavia, to prevent conflict, much to Cleopatra's distraughtness and enragement. Antony and Cleopatra reconcile and marry, with Antony divorcing Octavia. Octavian, incensed, reads Antony's will to the Roman senate, revealing that the latter wishes to be buried in Egypt. Rome turns against Antony, and Octavian's call for war against Egypt receives a rapturous response.
The war is decided at the naval Battle of Actium on September 2, 31 BC, where Octavian's fleet, under the command of Agrippa, defeats the Antony-Egyptian fleet. Cleopatra assumes Antony is dead and orders the Egyptian forces home. Antony follows, leaving his fleet leaderless and soon defeated.
Several months later, Cleopatra manages to convince Antony to retake command of his troops and fight Octavian's advancing army. However, Antony's soldiers abandon him during the night; Rufio (Martin Landau), the last man loyal to Antony, kills himself. Antony tries to goad Octavian into single combat, but is finally forced to flee into the city.
When Antony returns to the palace, Apollodorus, not believing that Antony is worthy of his queen, convinces him that she is dead, whereupon Antony falls on his own sword. Apollodorus then confesses that he misled Antony and assists him to the tomb where Cleopatra and two servants have taken refuge. Antony dies in Cleopatra's arms.
Octavian and his army march into Alexandria with Caesarion's dead body in a wagon. He discovers the dead body of Apollodorus, who had poisoned himself. Octavian receives word that Antony is dead and Cleopatra is holed up in a tomb. There he offers her his word that he will allow her to rule Egypt as a Roman province in return for her agreeing to accompany him to Rome. Cleopatra knows her son is dead and agrees to Octavian's terms, including a pledge not to harm herself.
After Octavian departs, she orders her servants in coded language to assist with her suicide. Octavian realizes that she is going to kill herself and he and his guards burst into Cleopatra's chamber and find her dressed in gold, and dead, along with her servants, while an asp crawls along the floor.
As the story of Cleopatra had proved a hit in 1917 for silent-screen legend Theda Bara, and was remade in 1934 with Claudette Colbert, 20th Century Fox executives hired veteran Hollywood producer Walter Wanger in 1958 to shepherd another remake of Cleopatra into production. Although the studio originally sought a relatively cheap production of $2 million, Wanger envisioned a much more opulent epic, and in mid-1959 successfully negotiated a higher budget of $5 million. Rouben Mamoulian was assigned to direct and Elizabeth Taylor was awarded a record-setting contract of $1 million. Filming began in England but in January 1961 Taylor became so ill that production was shut down. Sixteen weeks of production and costs of $7 million had produced just ten minutes of film. Fox was reimbursed by the insurance company and Mamoulian was fired.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz was brought on to the production after Mamoulian's departure and the set moved to Cinecittà, outside of Rome. Peter Finch and Stephen Boyd left the production owing to other commitments and were replaced by Rex Harrison and Richard Burton, as Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony respectively. During filming, Taylor met Burton and the two began an adulterous affair; the scandal made headlines worldwide, since both were married to others, and brought bad publicity to the already troubled production. Mankiewicz was later fired during the editing phase, only to be rehired to reshoot the opening battle scenes in Spain.
The cut of the film which Mankiewicz screened for the studio was six hours long. This was cut to four hours for its initial premiere, but the studio demanded (over the objections of Mankiewicz) that the film be cut once more, this time to just barely over three hours to allow theaters to increase the number of showings per day. Mankiewicz unsuccessfully attempted to convince the studio to split the film in two in order to preserve the original cut. These were to be released separately as Caesar and Cleopatra followed by Antony and Cleopatra.
The music of Cleopatra was scored by Alex North. It was released several times, first as an original album, and later versions were extended. The most popular of these was the Deluxe Edition or 2001 Varèse Sarabande album.
A reviewer for Time said, "As drama and as cinema, Cleopatra is riddled with flaws. It lacks style both in image and in action." Judith Crist concurred, calling it "a monumental mouse". Even star Elizabeth Taylor found it wanting, saying, "They had cut out the heart, the essence, the motivations, the very core, and tacked on all those battle scenes. It should have been about three large people, but it lacked reality and passion. I found it vulgar."
Positive reactions came from such publications as Variety, which wrote, "Cleopatra is not only a supercolossal eye-filler (the unprecedented budget shows in the physical opulence throughout), but it is also a remarkably literate cinematic recreation of an historic epoch." Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it "one of the great epic films of our day".
Retrospective reviews have been more forgiving towards it. American film critic Emanuel Levy said, "Much maligned for various reasons, [...] Cleopatra may be the most expensive movie ever made, but certainly not the worst, just a verbose, muddled affair that is not even entertaining as a star vehicle for Taylor and Burton." Billy Mowbray for the website of British television channel Film4 remarked that the film is "A giant of a movie that is sometimes lumbering, but ever watchable thanks to its uninhibited ambition, size and glamour."
At an audience level the film was a major hit, grossing $57.8 million in the United States and Canada, and in the process became the most successful film of 1963. Despite the film's popularity, however, Fox's income of $40.3 million earned from its share of the global ticket sales was not enough to cover the film's $44 million costs. Fox eventually recouped its investment in 1966 when it sold the television broadcast rights to ABC.
The film won four Academy Awards and was nominated for five more. It also earned Elizabeth Taylor a Guinness World Record title, "Most costume changes in a film"; Taylor made 65 costume changes. This record was beaten in 1968 in the film Star! by Julie Andrews with 125 costume changes.
|1963 National Board of Review Awards||Best Actor||Rex Harrison||Won|
|1964 Eddie Awards||Best Edited Feature Film||Dorothy Spencer||Nominated|
|1964 Golden Globes||Best Motion Picture - Drama||Cleopatra||Nominated|
|Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama||Rex Harrison||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture||Roddy McDowall||Nominated|
|Best Director - Motion Picture||Joseph L. Mankiewicz||Nominated|
|1964 Laurel Awards||Top Roadshow||Cleopatra||Won|
|Top Male Dramatic Performance||Rex Harrison||Nominated|
|1964 Academy Awards||Best Picture||Walter Wanger||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Leading Role||Rex Harrison||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography, Color||Leon Shamroy||Won|
|Best Art Direction - Set Decoration, Color||Art Direction: John DeCuir, Jack Martin Smith, Hilyard Brown, Herman A. Blumenthal, Elven Webb, Maurice Pelling, and Boris Juraga; Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott, Paul S. Fox, and Ray Moyer||Won|
|Best Costume Design, Color||Irene Sharaff, Vittorio Nino Novarese, and Renié||Won|
|Best Sound||James Corcoran (Twentieth Century Fox Sound Department) and Fred Hynes (Todd-AO Sound Department)||Nominated|
|Best Film Editing||Dorothy Spencer||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects||Emil Kosa, Jr.||Won|
|Best Music Score - Substantially Original||Alex North||Nominated|
|1964 Grammy Awards||Background Score from a Motion Picture or Television||Alex North||Nominated|
|2014 Golden Trailer Awards||Most Innovative Advertising for a Brand/Product||Cleopatra / Bulgari||Nominated|
Schawn Belston, serving as senior vice president of library and technical services for 20th Century Fox, was put in charge of creating a restored version of the film for the company. After a two-year process in 2013 he was able to restore a four-hour, eight-minute version. One of Belston's finds for this version was the original camera negative which was shot on 65mm. (Any longer version, which has yet to be found, would have existed only to show then-studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck.) Fading and damage to the negative were corrected digitally with an eye on preserving detail and authenticity while avoiding digital manipulation. Belston's team also had the original magnetic print masters which they used to restore the sound. They removed the clicks and hisses, then with the aid of the trained ears of musicians reconfigured the track for 5.1 surround sound.
On May 21, 2013, the restored film was shown at a special screening at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, to commemorate its 50th anniversary. It was later released as a 50th-anniversary version available on DVD and Blu-ray. Unfortunately Fox had long ago destroyed all of the trims and outs from negatives to save costs, preventing the release of traditional outtakes. The home media packages did include commentary tracks and two short films: "The Cleopatra Papers" and a 1963 film about the elaborate sets "The Fourth Star of Cleopatra".
With top tickets set at an all-time high of $5.50,Cleopatra had amassed as much as $20 million in such guarantees from exhibitors even before its premiere. Fox claimed the film had cost in total $44 million, of which $31,115,000 represented the direct negative cost and the rest distribution, print and advertising expenses. (These figures excluded the more than $5 million spent on the production's abortive British shoot in 1960–61, prior to its relocation to Italy.) By 1966 worldwide rentals had reached $38,042,000 including $23.5 million from the United States.
Achillas (Greek: Ἀχιλλᾶς) was one of the guardians of the Egyptian king Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, and commander of the king's troops, when Pompey fled to Egypt in 48 BC. He was called by Julius Caesar a man of extraordinary daring, and it was he and Lucius Septimius who killed Pompey at the suggestion of the eunuch Pothinus and Theodotus of Chios.Achillas subsequently joined Pothinus in resisting Caesar, and having had the command of the whole army entrusted to him by Pothinus, he marched against Alexandria with 20,000 on foot and 2,000 cavalry. Caesar, who was at Alexandria, did not have sufficient forces to oppose him, and sent ambassadors to negotiate with him. However, Achillas murdered the ambassadors to remove all hopes of reconciliation. He then marched into Alexandria and occupied most of the city (Siege of Alexandria (47 BC)). Meanwhile, Arsinoe, the younger sister of Ptolemy, escaped from Caesar and joined Achillas. However, in 47, dissension broke out between them, so Arsinoe had Achillas put to death by Ganymedes, a eunuch to whom she then entrusted the command of the forces.Cleopatra (1963 soundtrack)
Cleopatra: Original Soundtrack Album is the soundtrack from the film of the same name, released by 20th Century Fox Records in 1963. The music of Cleopatra was composed and conducted by Alex North, and was recorded and produced in 1963.
It has been released several times, first as an original vinyl album, in 1963. Later, in 1997, it was released in CD format by Tsunami Records, in Germany, as a Limited Edition album. The most popular of the releases was the Deluxe Edition, or 2001 Varèse Sarabande Edition, released as a double CD in 2001.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the film's director, made the unusual gesture, for him, of contributing extensive liner notes for the 1963 Original Soundtrack Album. These notes provide a valuable elucidation of many points in Mankiewicz's conception of Cleopatra that are unrealized in the version of the film that was released. Ironically, it was Mankiewicz's son Christopher who recommended North after his enthusiasm for his great score for Spartacus (1960).In 1964, Cleopatra: Original Soundtrack Album was nomiated for the Academy Award for Best Music Score - Substantially Original, and for the Grammy Award for Best Background Score from a Motion Picture or Television, but on both occasions it lost to Tom Jones (1963).Cleopatra (miniseries)
Cleopatra is a 1999 miniseries adaptation of Margaret George's 1997 historical fiction novel The Memoirs of Cleopatra. Produced by Hallmark Entertainment, it stars Leonor Varela as the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, Timothy Dalton as Julius Caesar, Billy Zane as Mark Antony, Rupert Graves as Octavius, Sean Pertwee as Brutus and Bruce Payne as Cassius. Cleopatra was shown first on the ABC television network in two parts on two consecutive evenings in May 1999 and then released on videotape and DVD.Hollywood Wax Museum Myrtle Beach
The Hollywood Wax Museum in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is the fourth wax museum owned and operated by descendants of Spoony Singh.
Opened on June 14, 2014, it is located at 21st Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass as a part of Broadway at the Beach. It features replicas of United States celebrities in film, television and music, as well as a NASCAR set and a section devoted to horror villains.
The building is a tribute to the U.S. film industry and includes the 35-foot-tall Great Ape of Myrtle Beach climbing the Empire State Building as a tribute to King Kong (1933 film)List of Heimat episodes
This is an episode guide for the film series Heimat created by Edgar Reitz.List of assassinations in fiction
Assassinations have formed a major plot element in various works of fiction. This article provides a list of fictional stories in which assassination features as an important plot element. Passing mentions are omitted.
Assassination can be regarded as the murder of a prominent person for a motive which is broadly public and political rather than merely personal or financial.Assassinations in fiction have attracted scholarly attention. In Assassinations and Murder in Modern Italy: Transformations in Society and Culture, as well as analyzing Italian assassinations in their historical and cultural contexts, Stephen Gundle and Lucia Rinaldi explore the films, plays, other works of fiction, and art that the act of assassination has inspired. Nick Cullather has discussed "The Movie Version" of John F. Kennedy's assassination.This list prefers to highlight less familiar cultural artifacts, while trying not to itemize every Ian Fleming or Agatha Christie title, or every Mafia film. The historical–historically based or historically inspired–takes precedence over the purely fictional and sensational.Louis Alexandre Raimon
Louis Alexandre Raimon (6 September 1922 – 3 January 2008), better known as Alexandre de Paris, was a famous French hairdresser ("maître coiffeur"). He was responsible for creating Elizabeth Taylor's coiffure in the 1963 Hollywood epic Cleopatra (1963 film). He also styled Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall, among others. He was nicknamed the "Prince de la coiffure", "d'Artagnan de la coiffure", "Sphinx de la coiffure", and "Figaro."
His signature chignons (knot or a coil of hair arranged in the back of the head)
and his flamboyant style made him famous, setting fashions in hairstyling for decades.