Cleopatra (1934 film)
|Directed by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Produced by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Written by||Waldemar Young
Bartlett Cormack (adaptation: historical material)
|Music by||Rudolph G. Kopp
Milan Roder (uncredited)
|Editing by||Anne Bauchens (uncredited)|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Cleopatra is a 1934 epic film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and distributed by Paramount Pictures, which retells the story of Cleopatra VII of Egypt. It was written by Waldemar Young, Vincent Lawrence and Bartlett Cormack, and produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Claudette Colbert stars as Cleopatra, Warren William as Julius Caesar, and Henry Wilcoxon as Marc Antony.
Victor Milner won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. It was nominated for Best Picture, Assistant Director (Cullen Tate), Film Editing (Anne Bauchens), and Sound, Recording (Franklin Hansen).
In 48 BC, Cleopatra vies with her brother Ptolemy for control of Egypt. Pothinos (Leonard Mudie) kidnaps her and Apollodorus (Irving Pichel) and strands them in the desert. When Pothinos informs Julius Caesar that the queen has fled the country, Caesar is ready to sign an agreement with Ptolemy when Apollodorus appears, bearing a gift carpet for the Roman. When Apollodorus unrolls it, Cleopatra emerges much to Pothinos surprise who tries to deny who she is. However Caesar sees through the deception and Cleopatra soon beguiles Caesar with the prospect of the riches of not only Egypt, but also India. Later, when they are seemingly alone, she spots a sandal peeking out from underneath a curtain and thrusts a spear into the hidden Pothinos, foiling his assassination attempt.
Caesar eventually returns to Rome with Cleopatra to the cheers of the masses, but unease at Cleopatra. Cassius (Ian Maclaren), Casca (Edwin Maxwell), Brutus (Arthur Hohl) and other powerful Romans become disgruntled, rightly suspecting that he intends to abolish the Roman Republic and make himself emperor, with Cleopatra as his empress (after divorcing Calpurnia, played by Gertrude Michael). Ignoring the forebodings of Calpurnia, Cleopatra, and a soothsayer (Harry Beresford) who warns him about the Ides of March, Caesar goes to announce his intentions to the Senate. Before he can do so, he is assassinated. Cleopatra is heartbroken at the news. At first, she wants to go to him, but Apollodorus tells her that Caesar did not love her, only her power and wealth, and that Egypt needs her. They return home.
Bitter rivals Marc Antony and Octavian (Ian Keith) are named co-rulers of Rome. Antony, disdainful of women, invites Cleopatra to meet with him in Tarsus, intending to bring her back to Rome as a captive. Enobarbus (C. Aubrey Smith) warns Antony against meeting Cleopatra but he goes anyway. She entices him to her boat and throws a party with many exotic animals and beautiful dancers, however, and soon bewitches him.
King Herod (Joseph Schildkraut) who has secretly allied himself with Octavian, visits the lovers. He informs Cleopatra privately that Rome and Octavian can be appeased if Antony were to be poisoned. Herod also tells Antony the same thing. Antony laughs off his suggestion, but a reluctant Cleopatra, reminded of her duty to Egypt by Apollodorus, tests a poison on a condemned murderer (Edgar Dearing) to see how it works. Before Antony can drink the fatal wine, however, they receive news that Octavian has declared war.
Antony sends orders to his generals and legions to gather, but his close friend Enobarbus (C. Aubrey Smith) informs him that they have all deserted out of loyalty to Rome. Enobarbus tells his comrade that he can wrest control of Rome away from Octavian by having Cleopatra killed, but Antony refuses to consider it. Enobarbus bades his friend and comrade Antony goodbye as he will not fight for a Egytian Queen against Rome.
Antony fights on with the Egyptian army, but is defeated. Octavian and his soldiers besiege Antony and Cleopatra. Antony is mocked when he offers to fight them one by one. Without his knowledge, Cleopatra opens the gate and offers to cede Egypt in return for Antony's life in exile, but Octavian turns her down. Meanwhile, Antony believes that she has deserted him for his rival, and stabs himself. When Cleopatra returns, she is heartbroken to find him dying. They reconcile before he perishes. Then, with the gate breached, she kills herself with a poisonous snake, and is found sitting on her throne dead.
- Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra
- Warren William as Julius Caesar
- Henry Wilcoxon as Marc Antony
- Joseph Schildkraut as King Herod
- Ian Keith as Octavian
- Gertrude Michael as Calpurnia
- C. Aubrey Smith as Enobarbus
- Irving Pichel as Apollodorus
- Arthur Hohl as Brutus
- Edwin Maxwell as Casca
- Ian Maclaren as Cassius
- Eleanor Phelps as Charmion, one of Cleopatra's servants
- Leonard Mudie as Pothinos
- Grace Durkin as Iras, another of Cleopatra's servants
- Ferdinand Gottschalk as Glabrio (scenes deleted)
- Claudia Dell as Octavia
- Harry Beresford as Soothsayer
- Jayne Regan as Lady Vesta (as Jane Regan)
- William Farnum as Lepidus
- Lionel Belmore as Fidius
- Florence Roberts as Lady Flora
- Richard Alexander as General Philodemas (as Dick Alexander)
- Celia Ryland as Lady Leda
- William V. Mong as Court physician
- Robert Warwick as General Achillas
- George Walsh as Courier
- Kenneth Gibson as Scribe
- Wedgwood Nowell as Scribe (as Wedgewood Nowell)
- Bruce Warren as Scribe
- Robert Seiter as Aelius (as Robert Manning)
- Edgar Dearing as Convict who tests the poison
In 1934, the Hays code had just taken effect, so DeMille got away with using more risque imagery than he would be able to in his later productions. He opens the film with an apparently naked, but strategically lit slave girl holding up an incense burner in each hand as the title appears on screen.
The film is also memorable for the sumptuous art deco look of its sets (by Hans Dreier) and costumes (by Travis Banton), the atmospheric music composed and conducted by Rudolph George Kopp, and for DeMille's legendary set piece of Cleopatra's seduction of Antony, which takes place on Cleopatra's barge.[original research?]
Home media 
- "The 7th Academy Awards (1935) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
- Chaney, Jen (April 9, 2009). "A Pair of DVDs From a 'Loose' Era". Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved April 12, 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Cleopatra (1934 film)|
- Cleopatra at Rotten Tomatoes
- Greatest Films- Cleopatra: Critique and plot description
- CinemaGraphe | Cleopatra 1934: Images and the story of the making of the film