By the Gods!

 Rex Harrison, as Julius Caesar, and Elizabeth Taylor, as Cleopatra, in CLEOPATRA (1963)

If you've followed this blog for some time, you know that I've been critical of this super-production from day one. Oddly enough, I believe I wouldn't so critical of it...I would be more receptive towards this problem plagued production if it wasn't for this pairing. Harrison and Taylor have no chemistry whatsoever. Peter Finch was set to star as Julius Caesar and I can see how this might have worked better, for the 'love scene' parts of the gigantic movie, but not with these two. It doesn't help that the kissing scene (below) is one of the most awkward ones ever filmed in the history of cinema. That scene is not helped by the awful, cringe inducing dialogue and the fact that we have a good view of Taylor's nostrils. No amount pf spectacular production (third image) can overcome these insurmountably weak aspects of this production. This is not just the fault of the choice of actors (even though they have no chemistry) but the director and producers for not seeing this and rectify it, and at least not film that love scene that way. But even so, I truly believe that without this unlikely pairing the film would have flowed much more smoothly.



3 comments:

Scott Ochiltree said...



The movie is way too long and overly reliant upon spectacle rather than a first class script and great acting.

In short it is a bloated mess in my view. Putting lots of $$$ up on the screen is not sufficient per se to make a great film.

Cecil B. DeMille did an enormously better job with Claudette Colbert in
1934.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with both of you on this one. I think it is one of the finest examples of epic cinema ever made. Yes, you have been off it since day one at this site and quite inexplicably so as you will champion films which are far less worthy of your praise. It's easy to imagine "what might have been" but Peter Finch was never close to being the actor Rex Harrison was. You complain about the lack of chemistry between Harrison and Taylor. Were Caesar and Cleopatra ever really in love or were they both using each other as a means to and end? I think they both play the parts with this in mind.

PEPLUM TV said...

I agree with that assessment: that the two historical characters weren't in love but I believe the film did try to make it look like they were passionate for each other in a way that it doesn't really work.

Apparently, the two actors didn't care much for each other and unfortunately it comes across on screen. Just my opinion.