Cleopatra Returns In All Its Fabled Glory


Only in Hollywood could the year’s highest-grossing feature also be the biggest flop, but that’s what happened with Cleopatra, the 1963 Joseph Mankiewicz-directed epic of Egyptian headdresses, cleavage, and makeup, all done with a distinctly 1960s American slant.

The main attractions were Richard Burton‘s voice, Liz Taylor‘s tits, and able turns by Rex Harrison (who was Oscar nominated) and Roddy McDowall (who would have been, but they forgot to submit him for consideration. True story.)

The whole thing lost a fortune, but before that happened it made quite a fortune. Everyone on earth wanted to see Liz and Dick being all grand and kissy faced, and in fab costumes yet. I was one of the lucky kids who not only got to see the film, but came home with a Cleopatra ring which my father bought me in the lobby. It fell apart pretty quickly, but I treasured all the pieces, just as I kept the remnants of the troubled film itself in my memory box for all time.

I felt the movie was eye popping, exciting, and a bit boring and incoherent. And long.

And it’s coming back! To Cannes and then to 200 theaters!

Everybody now: “Caesar, what’s boining?”