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

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Wilcoxon and Colbert
CLEOPATRA (1934). Director: Cecil B. DeMille.

"I am dying, Egypt, dying."

In 48 B.C. Egyptian princess Cleopatra (Claudette Colbert) first falls in love with Julius Caesar (Warren William) and then feels even more passion for the magnetic Marc Antony (Henry Wilcoxon). In the meantime, there is a lot of  jockeying for power and all sorts of heinous betrayal from many quarters. This is an opulent, totally absorbing bit of "Hollywood" history that is remarkably entertaining from start to finish. Colbert gives one of her finest performances, matched by florid William and studly Wilcoxon as her paramours. Other stand-outs in a fine supporting cast include Ian Keith as Octavian and Joseph Schildkraut as King Herod. This film also has the bit with Cleo wrapped up in a rug that was featured in the inferior remake with Elizabeth Taylor. One of the film's highlights is the detailed, briskly-edited montage of the war between Rome and Egypt, with a smitten Antony desperately fighting against his own countrymen out of love for Cleo. Fascinating, handsomely produced, and well-directed -- and ultimately moving.

Verdict: DeMille and Colbert at the height of their power. ****.

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