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ALEXANDRA DuPONT Takes On CLEOPATRA!!

Published at: April 1, 2001, 11:13 p.m. CST

I am – Hercules!

It is sin-like behavior to delay access to the searing and graceful wit of Alexandra DuPont, not only the best writer here on Coax, but in my view one of the best critics on the planet. The DVD Journal was good enough to loan her to us, so bow down, listen up, and be humbled as Cleopatra, predictably, discovers she is no match for Alexandria - er, that is, Alexandra the Great!

Review by Alexandra DuPont                    


"There is something about a mass-market Luxury Cruise that's unbearably sad."

— David Foster Wallace, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again"



I. Preamble

Cleopatra isn't a movie. It's a Super Bowl halftime show.

Actually, that's a little glib. What I should have written is: "It's a Super Bowl halftime show — only pathetic, because it has aspirations toward Art."

No, wait: "It's a Super Bowl halftime show — only pathetic, because it has aspirations toward Art — only not as pathetic (or dramatic) as its insanely troubled production history."

Actually, after viewing the more than 10 hours of material available on Fox's gorgeous, three-disc Cleopatra set, I realize that I could add clauses to the above phrase ad infinitum. Taken by itself, Cleopatra's just another bloated epic, albeit one of unprecedented scope. But throw in the film's production history — a deeply, deeply troubled production history, one that almost wrecked Fox in the early '60s and absolutely wrecked a few people's lives — and you can parse the film along social, ethical, and economic axes until your lower lip trembles.

Of course, taking a film's production history into account means writing about "social context," an approach that's usually best avoided; films should stand alone, you know? But this three-DVD set practically demands mention of Cleopatra's place in history: The special features relating to "social context" are quite a bit more interesting than the movie itself.

Yes, Cleopatra — much to the grave-rolling horror of its late director, the talented Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, Guys and Dolls, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Sleuth) — has become famous for its infamy, not for its actual content, and that's the angle Fox seems to be taking in marketing this package. To which I write: Good! Budgeted at something like $200 million in today's dollars, the production was a tsunami of waste, conceit, and bowel-shaking career genocide that washed a certain breed of epic filmmaking right out of Hollywood in the early 1960s. From the near-revolt of its wigmakers to the stimulants that had to be given to Mankiewicz to keep him from collapsing to the petty arguments over who got to be on the billboard, the Making of Cleopatra is a killer tale — and it gets a killer treatment in the disc's extras, which I'll address below.

*          *          *

II. Still, let's spend a little time on the movie, shall we? Here's the story, with spoilers:

It's a two-act story (and one that Mankiewicz originally wanted to release in two three-hour installments; here we have the four-hour cut that was released to a handful of American theaters, though in the extras we're told that archivists are currently trying to assemble, good Lord, the six-hour version):

(1) Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) and Caesar (Rex Harrison) fall in love. Cleopatra urges Caesar to focus on his career. Caesar goes bonkers. Caesar is killed.

(2) Cleopatra and Marc Antony (Richard Burton) fall in love. Cleopatra urges Marc Antony to focus on his career. Marc Antony goes bonkers. Marc Antony kills himself. Cleopatra kills herself.

Oo. Did I just ruin it for you? My social conscience would love to report that this is some sort of feminist allegory — you know, a woman being flummoxed in her quest for power and needing men to realize it, and the men being weaker than her, all that jibber-jabber. I'm sure there's a feminist reading to be had, but the truth is that (a) none of these three characters is particularly likable, and (b) Cleopatra is in many ways the least likable of all. No, Cleopatra plays more like Greek tragedy, with everyone's fatal flaws (ambition, hubris, a weakness for haughty white women masquerading as Egyptian princesses) coming back to bite them on the derierre.

*          *          *

III. What's essentially wrong with Cleopatra?

That's tough to define, but it probably boils down to the fact that the story and characters are all but swallowed up by (a) the sheer vastness of the gorgeous production design and (b) a script that tries so hard to be profound with every note sounded that it ends up playing as one-note opera.

About that production design: It's jaw-droppingly beautiful at times — and receives a pristine transfer on DVD, though you may find yourself squinting to catch all the details in the 2.35:1 widescreen (shot in Todd-AO, a system developed by Taylor's late husband). Even on a large television, the players are often postage-stamp tiny; I think I counted 10 close-ups in the whole movie. Much like certain video games require a 3D accelerator, this may be the first DVD that should be shipped with a warning sticker that reads: "16 x 9 Television Really Recommended to Prevent Ocular Damage."

The costumes (save that "Star Trek"-esque blue number Liz wears while overseeing the Battle of Actium) boast a lovely attention to detail that may never be topped. And image after image has an almost painterly composition — Antony standing before his troops, Antony sailing through a sea of drowning soldiers as he abandons a battle, a giant golden ship sailing to port.... I could go on and on.

The trouble is, actors playing drowning soldiers aren't the only ones swimming in Cleopatra. Major characters are all too often reduced to pesky gnats — flitting about on stages that are designed to the nines and photographed with a long lens for maximum money-to-screen utility (though, if you watch the making-of documentary, you quickly realize that "utility" wasn't that big a priority; see below). These endless, gorgeous shots — of processions of soldiers, of tchotchke-laden courts, of sets with tall ceilings — tend to distract from story and character.

And the script doesn't help counter the problem; it merely adds to the vastness. I'll show you what I mean. Following is an exchange between Caesar and Cleopatra early in the film, after Caesar has accidentally burned down the great Library of Alexandria. Note the sheer portentousness of every line uttered, the shameless attempt to sound Grand and Epic:


CAESAR

Whatever else I may be in your opinion, first of all I am Caesar.


CLEOPATRA

And I am Cleopatra — queen, daughter of Isis!


CAESAR

If I say so, and when I say so! You are what I say you are — nothing more!


CLEOPATRA

[sarcastically]

Hail, Caesar!


CAESAR

You — a descendant of generations of inbred, incestuous mental defectives — how dare you call anyone 'barbarian'!


CLEOPATRA

Barbarian!


CAESAR

Daughter of an idiotic flute-playing drunkard who bribed his way into the throne of Egypt!


CLEOPATRA

Your price was too high — remember?


CAESAR

I've had my fill with the smug condescension of you worn-out pretenders, parading on the ruins of your past glories!


CLEOPATRA

The future concerns me!


CAESAR

If it does, then keep out of my affairs and do as I say!


And so on, and on, and on. (I should note here that the opening credits tell us the script is "based upon histories by Plutarch ... Appian, other ancient sources [the 1917 silent-film version of Cleopatra, perhaps?], and 'The Life and Times of Cleopatra' by C.M. Franzero.") On the (Web) page, we can see the above dialogue for what it is — i.e., extremely ambitious but ultimately sort of romance-novelish. And the dialogue strikes this exact tone, without relief, for four long hours. It's exhausting.

*          *          *

IV. Okay. So how's Liz Taylor?

Kind of weak, I'm sorry to report. While she's not a bad actress, she's a contemporary actress, and her thrashings as Cleopatra seem more appropriate to a Tennessee Williams play — particularly in the presence of such Shakespearean stalwarts as Burton. Putting it another way: I didn't believe for a second that Taylor/Cleopatra could convince Burton/Antony to go to war with Rome any more than I believe Taylor could convince Burton to put down a scotch and soda.

That said, as an inteviewee suggests in the making-of documentary on Disc Three, Cleopatra contains the exact moment at which Elizabeth Taylor, Actress became Elizabeth Taylor, Camp Icon — i.e., the exact moment at which she cemented her place in pop-culture history.

It happens, of course, during the infamous Procession-into-Rome sequence — easily the most Super Bowl halftime show-ish part of the movie. Even in an era of digital spectacle, this is still a sight to behold: horses followed by chariots followed by streamers followed by archers followed by a woman wearing pasties (yes, pasties) followed by African dancers followed by witch doctors followed by pole-vaulters followed by confetti showers followed by women with giant cardboard wings on their arms followed by birds bursting (on cue) out of an obelisk followed by a Roman band followed by a cavalry followed by a giant Sphinx pulled by 200 or so slaves. On top of this Sphinx sits Ms. E. Taylor — who is then carried down some gold steps (while seated on a gyroscopic platform) and placed before Caesar.

At which point she winks. And her place in narcissism-enabling pop culture is secured.

*          *          *

V. What else is good?

(1) The way Mankiewicz avoids repeating himself. He'd already made a film of Julius Caesar (with Brando as Antony) in 1953, don't you know — and so he sidesteps the whole "Et tu, Brute?" assassination sequence by re-staging it as a trippy black-magic hallucionation Cleopatra has while in private conference with her court magician.

(2) Harrison, Burton and Roddy McDowall (as Julius Caesar's successor, the neurasthenic Octavian). They almost match the scope of the film, thanks to their utterly appropriate Heston-level gesticulations.

(3) The score by the legendary Alex North. It's overwrought, slithery, and chock full of layers and overdubs. You can also finally get it on a deluxe soundtrack CD, BTW; read more about it here, at Film Score Monthly; Lukas Kendall sums up its greatness better than I ever could.

*          *          *

VI. And the extras?

Well, first off there's a mammoth commentary track featuring Joseph L. Mankiewicz's sons Tom and Chris, Martin Landau and "Cleopatra expert and former Fox executive" Jack Brodsky. It re-hashes (in slightly greater detail than the documentary, described below) the production's troubled history. That said, there's a fair-sized silent patch toward the end, and the commentary fails to relate to the onscreen action at important junctures — i.e., a crucial dramatic moment will be transpiring onscreen and one of the Mankiewicz boys will be talking about a random production-woe anecdote. Still, anyone who gamely tries to spin yarns for four solid hours is a pip in my book.

The remainder of Cleopatra's extras are vacuum-packed onto a third disc, tucked away (rather maddeningly and scratch-invitingly) in the liner-notes booklet. This disc contains truly marvelous bonus materials — among the best I've encountered in a single DVD package. They're abundant, informative, historically intriguing, and deeply, powerfully sad, for reasons I'll try to explain later.

Tucked under the "Documentary and Featurette" menu we find the true centerpiece of this edition — a two-hour, warts-and-all making-of saga titled Cleopatra: The Film that Changed Hollywood. If you don't buy/rent this disc, be sure to catch the doc when it airs (debuting April 3, 2001) on American Movie Classics; it's one hell a story, and considerably more tragic and human and reversal-filled than Cleopatra itself. (In fact, if it had less glossy production value and more of the home-movie intimacy of, say, Eleanor Coppola's Hearts of Darkness, I'd be tempted to rank it as the best behind-the-scenes documentary I'd ever seen. As it stands, it's right up there.)

Directed by Kevin Burns and Brent Zacky and narrated by Robert Culp, this documentary (which should be chapter-searchable, but isn't) probably merits its own separate review. Suffice to say, it's a simply appalling saga of waste and mismanagement and Fitzcarraldo-level hubris — only in this case the filmmakers tried to haul the steamboat over the mountain two or three times instead of once. Among the treasures and gossip:

  • Extensive footage from the first mammoth, crumbling Alexandria set (used by the film's first director, Rouben Mamoulian), which Mankiewicz ordered scrapped and rebuilt because it wasn't grand enough;
  • Test-screen footage of costumes and actors, including a young Joan Collins looking very promising indeed as Cleopatra;
  • Interviews with Martin Landau, Roddy McDowall, a ghoulish-looking Richard Zanuck, the surviving Mankiewicz family, Hume Cronyn and a host of cast, crew, friends and associates — all of whom seem bemused and/or bitter about the whole experience;
  • Tons of excised footage and assorted cinematic boners, including some shabby battle scenes that Darryl F. Zanuck ordered re-shot after he dramatically seized command at Fox during the Cleopatra debacle;
  • Sad tales of (a) Elizabeth Taylor's health crises, (b) Elizabeth's Taylor's absurd, budget-exploding contractual stranglehold on the production and (c) Elizabeth Taylor's public humiliation of husband Eddie Fisher as she dallies with Richard Burton on-set. She's not interviewed for this documentary, and the omission comes as little surprise: The thesis here seems to be that producer Walter Wanger's hiring of Taylor was the fulcrum that sent Cleopatra tumbling into chaos;
  • And, saddest of all, tales of the production's personal toll on the talented Mankiewicz, who single-handedly worked to save script and film from ruin — and, for his trouble, had to be given a series of injections to combat his relentless exhaustion. There's something incredibly moving about Mankiewicz's eventual admission that — despite his Herculean efforts in the face of corruption and studio interference — he'd made a movie that was merely good, not great. This, to my thinking, is the documentary's most powerful, frightening moment: Its frank examination of the hard truth that, despite our best efforts, we may end up producing mediocre art.


I'm just scratching the surface here: I didn't even mention the rehearsal footage or the fight over the poster art or the brief deconstruction of the film's camp value or the archival TV interviews or the stuff about the movie's very real impact on fashion and pop culture or the extent of the tales of corruption and waste. It's brilliant stuff, and it casts a pall over everything else in this three-disc set — including, I'm afraid, the film itself, which you come to realize turned out surprisingly well despite emerging from a galactic train wreck.

Speaking of palls cast: The remainder of the extras are devoted largely to the marketing of Cleopatra. Viewed in one sitting, they engender emotions of nearly unbearable woe. Allow me to explain.

First up, there's the 1963 featurette, "The Fourth Star of Cleopatra", a nine-minute, remarkably scratch-free (though faded) Movietone News promotional short. Allow me to quote from the narration: "This is the fabulous story behind the fabulous film about the fabulous woman!" The resulting short film plays like a tour of Imelda Marcos' closet — because, in early-'60s Hollywood marketing, backing up assertions of fabulousness apparently means telling us again and again how big, how epic and most of all how plentiful everything is. Twenty-six thousand costumes! Eight thousand pairs of shoes! Fifteen thousand bows! One hundred fifty thousand arrows! The more hysterical sections of North's score are layered over the narration, and this is where the feeling of being buried under the sheer weight of Cleopatra's marketing begins.

But it doesn't end there. Oh, no. Then there's the "Still Gallery," a section haphazardly subdivided into "Costume Concept and Research," "Excepts from Original Exhibitors Campaign Book and Manual," "Excerpts from the Original Commemorative Theater Program," "British Lobby Cards" and "Billboard Art, Miscellanous Keyart, and Japanese Poster." There are hundreds of stills here — a couple of them shimmering in the most eyestrain-inducing fashion imaginable, thanks (I believe) to the "moray" effect of scanning something that's already been dot-screened. Anyway. The costume sketches are gorgeous and important; the rest are production stills, poster art and assorted other promotions, including a coloring-contest entry form. At this point, the viewer's head begins to swim.

But the real moment of overkill — the moment at which the aforementioned unbearable woe gets a foothold — comes somewhere during the viewing of the "Theatrical Trailers and Movietone News" menu.

Here we find newsreel coverage (4:00) of the New York premiere (with 10,000 Noo Yawkers in attendance), plus another newsreel (2:19) featuring the L.A. and D.C. premieres (and higher-ranking celebs in attendance). These two "news stories" play remarkably like "Entertainment Tonight" pieces — particularly in their disguising of shameless marketing ploys as bona fide news items. After viewing these, I came to realize that film scribes who argue that the concept of cross-marketing "synergy" began in the 1980s have a woefully shaky grasp on film history.

And finally, providing an exclamation point to the building nausea, we stumble across six (six!) trailers — one in French, one in Portuguese — ranging from :30 to 4:38 in length. In keeping with Hollywood marketing of the period, these are largely text-driven — and said text is devoted solely to the promise of spectacle. Over shrieking Alex North score snippets we read: "The Festival of Bacchus!" "The Battle of Actium!" "Cleopatra's Fabled Golden Barge!" and, most telling, "The Most Important Event in Entertainment History!"

It's that last tag that finally nailed me — coming as it does atop a pile of tragedy and excess and in the service of plodding drama. Is "Entertainment" really so "Important" that it should consume lives, careers, and over $200M in today's dollars? Is writing such bloat (or, even worse, writing about the writing of such bloat) really a worthy avocation? And would I have bought into the hysteria in 1963 and purchased a ticket?

At least one answer, I'm afraid, is "Absolutely."

— Alexandra DuPont
dupont@dvdjournal.com

  • Color
  • Three-disc set
  • Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1)
  • English 5.1, English Surround, French Surround
  • English, Spanish subtitles
  • Commentary track featuring Joseph L. Mankiewicz's sons Tom and Chris, Martin Landau, and "Cleopatra expert and former Fox executive" Jack Brodsky
  • 2000 documentary: Cleopatra: The Film that Changed Hollywood
  • 1963 featurette: The Fourth Star of Cleopatra
  • Two Movietone Newsreels on the East Coast and West Coast premieres of Cleopatra
  • "Costume Concept and Research" still gallery
  • "Excerpts from Original Exhibitors Campaign Book and Manual" still gallery
  • "Excerpts from Original Commemorative Theater Program" still gallery
  • "British Lobby Cards" still gallery
  • "Billboard Art, Miscellaneous Keyart, and Japanese Poster" still gallery
  • Six theatrical trailers
  • Dual-DVD keep-case (with third disc in booklet pocket)


Readers Talkback

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  • April 1, 2001, 11:59 p.m. CST

    am i first? probably not...

    by Westrum

    yikes...i never thought i'd see the day when this turd would be out on dvd...i think it'd time for the four horsemen now.

  • April 2, 2001, 12:05 a.m. CST

    The horror...the horror

    by Lazarus Long

    This doesn't sound like something I'd actually want to own (let alone spend the money on), but it sounds like a definite weekend rental. And although it wasn't stated directly by Miss A.D.P., the film apparently isn't as bad as Heaven's Gate or Paint Your Wagon. Before all the insults come flying in Elizabeth Taylor's direction, let it be said that her perf in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is one of the all-time greats, and while Taylor isn't anywhere near the talent of someone like Katharine Hepburn, she's a hell of a better actress than Julia Roberts (who is somewhere on the level of Marilyn Monroe--and Julia hasn't done anything as good as MM in The Misfits or Bus Stop). At least the megastars of long ago had the chops to go with it (Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis). It's really sad that Taylor's last film role may wind up being her cameo in The Flintstones. At least Kate Hepburn had a sublime scene in the otherwise uninteresting Love Affair to go out on, assuming she does nothing else.

  • April 2, 2001, 12:11 a.m. CST

    Great review, as always...

    by crimsonrage

    ...I remember as kid, we were forced to watch "Cleopatra" in my History class. But instead, I convinced my not-so-bright friend Willy to throw compasses at the substitute teacher named Ms. Ranken. That is all.

  • April 2, 2001, 12:29 a.m. CST

    A.DuP. responds to crimsonrage....

    by Alexandra.DuPont

    ... They made you watch this in your HISTORY class? I can't even IMAGINE trying to intellectually justify that. I fear for our youth.

  • April 2, 2001, 12:32 a.m. CST

    i thought Cleopatra was set in the future

    by wilko185

    in the year 2525

  • April 2, 2001, 6:28 p.m. CST

    Crimsonrage's response to Alexandra...

    by crimsonrage

    ...I think they made us watch it because the normal teacher was away for a week and they used the film as filler material.

  • April 2, 2001, 6:30 p.m. CST

    Answer to unrelated question

    by Sam Graves

    Unfortunately, Poledouris' wonderful score is only in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono on both editions of Conan the Barbarian (standard and collector's). The Collector's Edition offers a welcomed new anamorphic widescreen transfer, but the soundtrack was not remixed. Just listen to the score as it plays over the teaser trailer to Gladiator on the Gladiator DVD. It is sickening.<br> In regards to the new Cleopatra DVD, I only wish that all the studios would follow Fox's lead in the treatment of their movie libraries.

  • April 2, 2001, 7:27 p.m. CST

    You Ain't So Bad, DuPont!

    by mrbeaks

    Let's see how you handle the inevitable, 311-minute, "Oh Brother, Is This Gonna Hurt" Edition of Bertolucci's 1900. Then, I'll be impressed.

  • April 2, 2001, 11:42 p.m. CST

    now that's some jibba jabba

    by neo-jimmbob

    That was one slam bang kick ass review. thanks 'mam

  • April 2, 2001, 11:48 p.m. CST

    re; crimson rage

    by neo-jimmbob

    Once during my sophmore year in high school. my english class was forced (yes by a substitute) to watch the empire strikes back for three weeks, i shit you not. we were then asked to write a thesis on how the films affected us.

  • April 2, 2001, 11:48 p.m. CST

    I've never seen this film. . . .

    by Sith Lord Jesus

    . . .and short of a re-release on the big screen, this sounds like the way to go. Sad story, the making of it is. And with the cost of the sets--hugly expensive, like those of that other white elephant, WATERWORLD, I am all the more appreciative of CGI, which cuts such expenses considerably. Imagine CLEOPATRA made today, with IL&M at their service. In the same vein, digital film should lessen expenses even more. Of course, if some of the films makers were really so incompatent, then it wouldn't have mattered I guess.

  • April 3, 2001, 4:23 a.m. CST

    What's this world coming to?

    by MartinBlank

    A Talkback forum about a DuPont piece and it has no goofy guys drooling over her and proposing marriage? Actually pretty damn refreshing. Everyone's posts have stuck to the celluloid in question and not Alexandra's babe-osity. Which is good 'cause you don't see too many female Talkbackers saying "Great review, Moriarty, I wanna have your baby!!" Wonder if it's because 'Cleopatra' doesn't interest the sort of sci-fi boyz who post such adenoidal saliva... *** Anyway I digress...Dear God, this was considered a huge flop back then and now it's getting 3 discs from Fox?? Then again, 'Brazil' was a flop too albeit a studio-created flop (also it was a brilliant scrap o' celluloid) and that got 3 discs also. Point being, I wonder what else is gonna be deemed 3-disc-worthy. They damn well best better do that for the LOTR movies (as in 3 discs EACH), that's all this boy has to say... *** Speaking of Peter J. - what happened to that humungoid FRIGHTENERS DVD with the 29-hour documentary we were supposed to get? *** and I see I've veered way off topic here...

  • April 3, 2001, 7:57 a.m. CST

    Cleo'dupont'ra

    by Stanazgul

    AICN All hail, Dupont! another fine review by mrs dupont. the team at aicn should really count their blessings that they have such a staff writer like Alexandera. anyone who can sit through 10 straight hours of liz tayor richard burton and the others is a 'cleopatra' in my book. I'll make sure i catch the documentary on amc. I dont have a dvd but we do have cable! Anyway about the review and the movie. its interesting to me that liz like dupont said sealed her fate as a pop icon when this movie was made. i like what dupont is saying but i wonder if alexandra would agree that the 'who's afraid of virgina wolf?" filmed in 1966 was the thing that truly threw her into the limelight and validated her as pure talent. richard burton on the otherhand probaby was saved by 'who's afraid of virgina wolf?" he established himself earlier on as an actor. Cleopatra was a living dinosaur. the last of the sixties and fifties epic dramas like 'ben hur' or 'east of eden'. dupont hits it right on the head because by values of the fifties disolved and was giving into the choas of the sixties. i think dupont is dead on because the movie isn't great nor the writing nor the acting because all the writers and directors and actor had proven themselves outside this production.cleopatra is outstanding for its negligence of the times and social times and its representation of a bygone era. the movie is fun because of everything that surrounds the movie. btw, i caught the 'alien nation' reveiw. totally dug it. its hard to believe that mandy patinkins seemingly bright career was taking off with "princess bride" and has nearly ended with 'alien nation'. anyway, point is great review. mrs dupont may just make me break the bank and get a dvd player. hey, mrs. dupont what kind of popcorn do you suggest? ;) CU stan

  • April 3, 2001, 11:25 a.m. CST

    Wallace

    by LeeScoresby

    Alexandra Dupont should read someone besides David Foster Wallace. While her reviews are enjoyable, the emulation factor is starting to push my buttons. Try writing like Sedaris for a change...or Fielding. Or Hornby. Or...anyone but Wallace.

  • April 3, 2001, 12:40 p.m. CST

    I have a strange love affair with this film...

    by All Thumbs

    Whenever I know it's coming on and if it's possible, I set aside the four hours to watch this film. I don't know if it's Harrison or Taylor or the background stories or the spectacular costumes and sets, but I have to watch this movie. It's like expired medicine. I know it won't do anything for me, probably even do me harm, but I gotta give it a try to cure my classic movie cravings. And it's funny that you mention Tenessee Williams because I believe that "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is Taylor at her best. Undertone change be damned, I love that film, too. Great review, Ms.DuPont, as usual.

  • April 3, 2001, 1:40 p.m. CST

    history class

    by Gilda Mundson

    I had to watch this movie in history class when I was in the 10th grade, and we didn't have a sub or anything. The real teacher was just that stupid. Also, the class was at 6:30 am. watching Cleopatra in that class was the most painful week and a half of my life. We also watched Alexander the Great. Basically, the teacher was a dumb fuck. Thanks for the memory Alexandra DuPont. By the way, you are by far the best contributer to the sight. All hail Alexandra DuPont. But there is no way in hell I will consider watching that bloated DVD.

  • April 3, 2001, 8:55 p.m. CST

    I always thought someone should make a movie about the making of

    by superninja

    Of course, the living actors would wholly disapprove, but it was just so fascinating to watch this Hollywood-train-wreck happen. I will agree that the movie itself isn't that great. But Liz Taylor *is* Cleopatra to me. And I always love her opposite Richard Burton, because they really do have chemistry (Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? is a masterpiece in marital disfunction). It's just all the other...stuff. Beautiful production, great direction...I don't know. I think I have to blame the script on this one for being too big in scope. Of course the director and producers are at fault for this as well, but I can't really blame them for trying. I think in today's age, this would be called a "vanity project", and maybe now I wouldn't be so forgiving. And on a fanboy note, the Mattel Taylor Cleopatra doll is just amazing. FYI -- anyone who likes the movie in the way I do will appreciate the documentary AMC is running on the production.

  • April 3, 2001, 8:59 p.m. CST

    All Thumbs

    by superninja

    I love Liz in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof! Everyone in that cast was brilliant. Maybe you share with me the love for old school spectacle, which is what this movie is all about. I'll also sit down and watch this movie at its long running-time, just to see Taylor, Reed and Burton do their thing. The only thing that annoys me is that the Egyptians have British accents.

  • April 3, 2001, 9:03 p.m. CST

    Dupont

    by superninja

    You have a mastery of language. I love reading your articles, and I neglected to thank you. I always look forward to your reviews: comprehensive, insightful and humorous. I hope I haven't kissed too much arse, but you are always a breath of fresh air. Sorry Harry, Moriarty, et al...heheh...

  • April 4, 2001, 6:50 a.m. CST

    I also watched this in history class!

    by BigW

    I kind of liked of liked it. Definately not a movie you can sit down and watch in a single sitting, but I liked it. Thinking back though, I do believe the rest of the class hated it. Like ADP said, the performances by Ceasar, Anthony and Octavian/Augustus are pretty good. The sets are great. The battle scenes are pretty good. The costume is good. If you can skip some of the "superbowl spectaculars" (god bless DVD) this movie would be pretty damned good!