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Films - Cleopatra -1934
By Michael Russell

48 B.C. Julius Caesar conquers half the world and now sets his attention to Egypt, where Cleopatra, played by Claudette Colbert and her brother Ptolemy struggled for sole possession of the throne.

Ptolemy had Prime Minister Pothinos, played by Leonard Mudie, kidnap Cleopatra, along with her personal advisor, Apollodorus and left them both in the desert to either die or to live in a new land of Syria.

Julius Caesar (played by Warren William) is now in his central court where Pothinos is convincing Caesar to give sole leadership of Egypt to Ptolemy, when once Ptolemy and Cleopatra were shared rulers. Cleopatra makes an impressive appearance to Caesar by having Apollodorus present her unrolling from a Persian rug. The "sole leadership of Egypt by Ptolemy" petition is stopped. Cleopatra and Caesar become allies with the promise of all the riches of India to be theirs.

Caesar and Cleopatra's friendship turns into a romance. Cleopatra convinces Caesar to leave his wife Calpurnia, played by Gertrude Michael and to bring herself to Rome as Caesar's new wife. She makes a fabulous entry into Rome.

Cleopatra dutifully prepare for her wedding day, however, tragedy

strikes. On the Ides of March, Caesar is killed by his fellow Senators and friends, including Brutus, played by Arthur Hohl.

After Caesar's death, Marc Antony ( played by Henry Wilcoxon) makes a trip to Egypt with the intention of arresting Cleopatra and to bring her to Rome in chains. However, Cleopatra had a scheme of her own by getting Marc Antony drunk, entertain him with dancing girls and finally seducing him herself.

Back in Rome, Octavian, played by Ian Keith, receives no word back from Marc Antony. Octavian learns of Cleopatra's plot and now knows that Antony has decided to stay in Egypt with Cleopatra. Octavian, making a promise to NOT fall for Cleopatra's seducing powers, decided to go to Egypt himself. This time with the Roman army capture Cleopatra.

Battle breaks out between Egypt and Rome with Egypt losing the battle. Cleopatra leaves Antony behind in her palace to make peace with Octavian and to save Antony's life. Antony, thinking Cleopatra is betraying him, commits suicide. More depressing is that the peace talk between Cleopatra and Octavian fails and she returns back to her Egyptian palace.

Finding Antony dead and hearing that Octavian and his army are on their way to capture Cleopatra and bring her back as a hostage; she makes a decision also to commit suicide. She chose to be bitten by a poisonous snake. As the army, with Octavian, enters her palace, they see Cleopatra sitting beautifully upon her throne, dead.

FILM FACTS: This film went on to win an Oscar for cinematographer Victor Milner. This film was also nominated for Best Picture. Henry Wilcoxon and Cecil B. DeMille were good friends and Cecil B. DeMille placed Henry Wilcoxon in many of his movies. Cleopatra's beaded dress worn by Claudette Colbert weighed over sixty pounds and was heavy to wear. Antony's armor worn by Henry Wilcoxon was also heavy and weighed close to 100 pounds. Especially noteworthy are the elaborate sets of the early 1930s. The famous "barge scene" in the movie was one of the most talked about cinematic effects in film history at that time.


Michael Russell

 
 
     
 
 
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