In 1963, this colossal and opulent $60 million spectacular was epic in every sense of the word -- an epic investment, an epic in the annals of Hollywood gossip, and, ultimately, an epic flop that nearly dragged 20th Century Fox down the… More In 1963, this colossal and opulent $60 million spectacular was epic in every sense of the word -- an epic investment, an epic in the annals of Hollywood gossip, and, ultimately, an epic flop that nearly dragged 20th Century Fox down the Nile along with Cleopatra's barge. Handsomely mounted by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who replaced Rouben Mamoulian as director after six days of shooting), the drama follows the eighteen tumultuous years that led to the founding of the Roman Empire. Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor) meets up with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and plans to lure Caesar to her boudoir in order to forge an alliance with Rome so that she may hold on to her Egyptian empire. When Caesar is stabbed to death in the Roman Senate, Cleopatra is left without an ally, and Egypt is up for grabs. When Roman general Mark Antony (Richard Burton) comes along, she seduces him in order to make him over into her new protector. But, under the charms of Cleopatra, Mark Antony is reduced from a an awesome and dominating general to a sniveling, drunken wimp. At the Battle of Actium, Mark Antony is defeated and Cleopatra withdraws her troops, dooming Mark Antony and his army. With Egypt in peril, Antony and Cleopatra, the doomed lovers, meet each other for the last time, as the enemy forces close in. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
Consensus: Cleopatra is a lush, ostentatious, endlessly eye-popping epic that sags collapses from a (and how could it not?) four-hour runtime.