Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA (1945). Director: Gabriel Pascal.

Caesar (Claude Rains) and Cleopatra (Vivien Leigh) meet cute in Egypt in what seems like a black comedy based on the play by George Bernard Shaw, who also did the screenplay and therefore has to take most of the blame. Pseudo-Shakespearean, this minimally holds the attention but never quite becomes totally convincing. Rains is miscast as Caesar -- there's nothing wrong with showing a more vulnerable Caesar but it's hard to see this foppish fellow leading conquering Armies. The carpet scene where Caesar discovers Cleo in a rug was done better in the Elizabeth Taylor version. Leigh is excellent, and so are Flora Robson as her lady-in-waiting, Ernest Thesiger of Bride of Frankenstein fame as Theodotus, and the boy who plays Cleo's younger brother. Georges Auric's musical score has its moments, and the production values are generally excellent. But this is a poor excuse for drama. It has absolutely no climax!

Verdict: Lots of effort to little effect. **.

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