Cast & Crew
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
In 48 B. C. Caesar pursues Pompey from Pharsalia to Egypt. Ptolemy, now sovereign after deposing his older sister, Cleopatra, attempts to curry favor with Caesar by presenting the conquerer with the head of Pompey, borne by his satraps, Pothinos and Achillas. To win Caesar's support from her brother, Cleopatra hides herself in a rug, which Apollodorus, her minion, presents to Caesar. The Roman is immediately infatuated; banishing Ptolemy, he declares Cleopatra Egypt's sole sovereign and takes her as his concubine. A son, Caesarion, is born of their union. Caesar, however, must return to Italy. Although he is briefly reunited with Cleopatra during a magnificent reception for the queen in Rome, Caesar is assassinated shortly thereafter, and his paramour returns to Egypt. When Mark Antony, Caesar's protege, beholds Cleopatra aboard her barque at Tarsus some years later, he is smitten and becomes both her lover and military ally. Their liaison notwithstanding, Antony, to consolidate his position in Rome, marries Octavia, sister of the ambitious Octavian. The marriage satisfies no one: Cleopatra is infuriated, and Antony, tiring of his Roman wife, returns to Egypt. There he flaunts his liaison by marrying Cleopatra in a public ceremony. Sensing Antony's weakness, Octavian attacks and defeats his forces at Actium. Alarmed, Cleopatra withdraws her fleet and seeks refuge in her tomb. Falsely informed that she is dead, Antony stabs himself. Borne to her sanctuary, he expires in her arms. In despair, Cleopatra applies an asp to her breast and dies of its poison.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
L. B. Abbott
John De Cuir
Alberto De Rossi
C. O. Erickson
Paul S. Fox
Forrest E. Johnston
Emil Kosa Jr.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Vittorio Nino Novarese
Walter M. Scott
Fred R. Simpson
Jack Martin Smith
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
Best Special Effects
When the film opened, critics panned it as a debacle. Time magazine called it, "raddled with flaws, [lacking] style both in image and in action." Even the stars themselves condemned the final product. Elizabeth Taylor, who played the title role, explained, "It must be the most eccentric film ever made. I was finally forced to see it in London, knowing full well, after what I'd heard, that I'd be sick to my stomach. They had cut out the heart, the essence, the motivations, the very core, and tacked on all those battle scenes. It should have been about three large people, but it lacked reality and passion. I found it vulgar" (Jerry Vermilye and Mark Ricci, The Films of Cleopatra).
Bad reviews were just one of the many dark clouds looming over a film that was cursed even before production began. Originally, Fox aimed to release the film in March of 1960. Studio heads Buddy Adler and Spyros P. Skouras wanted an "economically made $2 million spectacle with `pre-sold names' such as contractees Joan Collins, Suzy Parker, or Joanne Woodward" (Matthew Bernstein, Walter Wanger: Hollywood Independent). However, the film's producer, Walter Wanger, saw a big-budget epic in the making. He set out to sell Adler and Skouras on the film he wanted by first demonstrating the visual possibilities for the epic. Wanger hired John DeCuir, who had worked on such grandiose films as The King and I (1956), to be the film's art director. One afternoon in February of 1959, Wanger set DeCuir's sketches and set models on display for the studio heads to see. Wanger later explained, "They all flipped because it was the God-damndest thing they had ever seen" (Bernstein). Wanger continued his campaign for a bigger film by casting Elizabeth Taylor to play Cleopatra. Initially, Fox was not happy with the decision, but Wanger held out, and Skouras conceded that the decision would increase the box-office draw.
Taylor was shooting Suddenly, Last Summer in London when Wanger called her in September of 1959. She said that she would play Cleopatra if a few script changes were made, the film was shot in England for tax and publicity purposes, and she was guaranteed a salary of $1 million dollars. Wanger, and the studio, balked at her asking price, but Taylor got her wish. While filming Butterfield 8 (1960), Taylor secured one of the most astonishing deals in Hollywood up to that time. The contract she signed assured her a salary of $125,000 per week for sixteen weeks; $50,000 weekly after sixteen weeks; 10% of the film's gross; $3,000 per week living expenses ¿ plus food and lodging; and first-class tickets for herself, three adults, and three children. Taylor's total earnings for a film with a supposed budget of $2 million eventually totaled more than $7 million.
After Taylor signed on, Adler and Skouras secured Rouben Mamoulian to direct. Casting was also finalized with Peter Finch to play Caesar and Stephen Boyd to play Antony. However, Cleopatra still lacked a finalized script. Many re-writes and writer replacements during nearly two years of pre-production had not produced a filmable script. Thus when shooting began in the fall of 1960, there was no structured production plan. Shooting the film in England also proved disastrous. Despite previous assumption, England's Pinewood Studios did not process the technical capacity for the film's production. Ceilings were too low to allow for the set design, there were not enough soundstages for all the different scenes, and the unions were very limiting. To compensate, the projected budget now soared over $6 million.
Filming was rescheduled for September of 1960 and Fox hoped to complete the project by February of 1961. However, England's chilling temperatures and high humidity immediately caused Taylor to fall ill with a cold. Mamoulian shot around her, capturing Egyptian landscapes and dialogue scenes between minor characters, yet costumes and sets were no more ready than the script. Mamoulian was also having trouble controlling the crowd scenes, and England's weather was frustratingly unstable. The resulting footage did not befit an Egyptian setting. Mamoulian explained, "The great white columns of that beautiful set were wreathed in light mists; while every time anyone spoke, there were clouds of steam from his mouth. It had a marvelous quality, quite beautiful, but not exactly Alexandrian" (Bernstein). These complications once again forced Fox to raise the budget to $9 million.
Meanwhile, specialists were brought in to see about Taylor. As her fever, headaches, and congestion continued, the press began to swarm. Reports surfaced that she was suffering from a nervous breakdown or a miscarriage. Queen Elizabeth II's personal physician finally diagnosed the cause of her illness as an abscessed tooth, and she would need more time to recover. Taylor's illness cost Fox an additional $2 million. The company ordered production to cease and demanded a replacement be found for the leading lady. Wanger once again went to bat for Taylor, and she remained on the picture.
After two years in the making, and $7 million spent, Fox had ten minutes of useable footage. Mamoulian subsequently resigned before shooting resumed, and Taylor suggested Joseph Mankiewicz to take his place. Mankiewicz had directed her in Suddenly, Last Summer, for which she earned an Academy nomination. He had also directed Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in 1953, proving his keen sense of classical history. Thus, Mankiewicz seemed like the perfect choice. Fox paid out $3 million dollars to secure the director and buy him out of previous obligations.
When Mankiewicz read Mamoulian's script, he found it to be "shockingly barren of either scope or magnitude" (Bernstein). He criticized its stereotyped characterization of Cleopatra as "a strange, frustrating mixture of an American soap-opera virgin and an hysterical Slavic vamp" (Bernstein). Instead, he saw her as a femme fatale and perceived the rivalry between Caesar and a weak Antony as the motif of the film. This story transformation called for a completely new script. Mamoulian's ten minutes of footage was discarded, and Fox had to abandon the $7 million spent thus far. Mankiewicz composed an outline and hired Ranald MacDougall, who wrote Mildred Pierce (1945), to pen the new script.
Just when it seemed like the film might be back on track, Taylor became ill again in the spring of 1961. She suffered from acute staphylococcus pneumonia and underwent an emergency tracheotomy. Her condition was critical, and the press flocked to the hospital. The media alerted the world that Elizabeth Taylor could die at any moment. Taylor eventually recovered and flew home to California just in time to receive the Best Actress Oscar® for Butterfield 8. During her six-month recuperation, she underwent plastic surgery to remove the scar from the tracheotomy, but it was never completely hidden.
When filming was to resume in the fall of 1961, production had been moved to Italy, where Fox hoped to cut costs due to the Italian six-day work week and warm weather. Mankiewicz had yet to receive a finalized script and began writing it himself. Sets and costumes were still yet to be completed. However, Fox remained rigid to its September start date. The company's production department had to prepare the film's budget and production plan with only a script outline. Even though Mankiewicz had written 132 pages of script by this point, which would equal about a 100-minute film, 195 pages remained to be written during shooting. Mankiewicz worked himself to sheer exhaustion during the next several months of production. He would shoot all day and write all night, going on little if any sleep. With no time to make script edits or rewrites, he shot everything he wrote, costing Fox millions in wasted time. Sets were built at high overtime costs only to sit unused for months due to lack of production planning. Extras waited on set doing nothing for weeks while still on payroll. Every day, Fox sent wires to the set complaining about the films skyrocketing costs. And still, another complication was brewing - one that would create more of a scandal than anyone imagined.
During Cleopatra's hiatus over the summer of 1961, the role of Caesar had been recast to be played by Rex Harrison, and Antony was to be played by Richard Burton. Burton had just won a Tony as King Arthur in Camelot. Fox bought him out of his contract in New York and signed him to the film for $300,000. Cleopatra was to be the biggest film thus far in his career, and he was happy to go to Rome. Despite being married for 12 years with two daughters, Burton had developed a reputation for romancing his leading ladies. Taylor was also married at the time to Eddie Fisher, a highly publicized relationship itself that began while Fisher was still married to Debbie Reynolds.
At first, Burton could not stand Taylor, referring to her as "Miss Tits" and remarking to Mankiewicz, "I expect she shaves" (Melvyn Bragg, Richard Burton: A Life). Even though he had never seen her perform, he saw her as just another movie star with no acting talent. Taylor knew of his reputation as a highly acclaimed actor, yet she did not think much of the loud-mouthed, womanizing Welshman at first either. All that was soon to change. Many times, Burton had said, "I cannot act with a person unless I'm powerfully sexually interested in that person" (Kitty Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star). If this was the case, then Burton's opinion of Taylor had undoubtedly changed by the time they played their first scene together. Fox described it as an "electrifying encounter" (Bragg). Everyone on set then realized that the actors were now actually living their parts. "There comes a time during a movie when the actors become the characters they play," said Wanger. "This merger of real personality into the personality of the role has to take place if a performance is to be truly effective. That happened today...The cameras turned and the current was literally turned on. It was quiet, and you could almost feel the electricity between Liz and Burton" (Kelly).
It was only a matter of weeks before the media buzz of the scandal reached the rest of the world. Paparazzi followed the couple everywhere, and the story dominated headlines around the world. "Le Scandale," as Burton termed it, even incited the Vatican to publicly denounce the adulterous affair.
When filming wrapped, Fox had spent over $30 million on production. Another $15 million would be spent on the picture's promotion. Mankiewicz delivered the final product at over six hours long. Fox toyed with the idea of releasing the film in two parts to try to recoup as much money as possible, but that idea was scrapped. The film opened in New York on June 11, 1963 with a running time of 243 minutes. A week later, it was reduced to 222 minutes. The reviews were discouraging, yet the film's publicity did attract consumers to the box-office. Although it grossed over $26 million, making it one of the highest grossing films of 1963, it was nowhere near enough to recover the studio's losses. Wanger later explained Cleopatra's high disappointment as resulting from two reasons. "The first was corporate politics that resulted in executive indecisiveness. The second was that the film went into production `before we had a script or a well-thought-out and practical production plan or organization' " (Bernstein).
Looking past Cleopatra's enormous cost and confusion, some critics did praise the film. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote, "Unless you are one of those skeptics who are stubbornly predisposed to give Cleopatra the needle, I don't see how you can fail to find this a generally brilliant, moving, and satisfying film." The Academy agreed. The film won Oscars® for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Visual Effects. It also received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Rex Harrison), Best Editing, Best Score, and Best Sound.
The dark clouds lingering over Cleopatra's production undoubtedly stained its release, overshadowing the actual quality of the film itself. The plot, Cleopatra using her feminine wiles to stabilize her Egyptian power by seducing Caesar and Marc Antony, seemed almost irrelevant. Audiences were more interested in the romance between Taylor and Burton than Cleopatra and Antony. The film's dialogue was smart and the spectacle was stunning, yet never quite seemed worth the price tag. Over time, Fox did eventually make its money back. In 1966, ABC paid $5 million for two showings, finally putting Cleopatra in the black.
Producer: Walter Wanger, Peter Levathes
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Screenplay: Sidney Buchman, Ben Hecht, Ranald MacDougall, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Carlo Mario Franzero (book)
Cinematography: Leon Shamroy
Film Editing: Dorothy Spencer
Art Direction: Herman Blumenthal, Hilyard Brown, John DeCuir, Boris Juraga, Maurice Pelling, Jack Martin Smith, Elven Webb
Music: Alex North
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra), Richard Burton (Marc Antony), Rex Harrison (Julius Caesar), Pamela Brown (High Priestess), George Cole (Flavius), Hume Cronyn (Sosigenes).
by E. Lacey Rice
TCM Remembers - Carroll O'Connor
Carroll O'Connor - who died June 21st at the age of 76 - will be best remembered for portraying Archie Bunker on TV's All in the Family but his career actually was much more extensive. Born in New York on August 2nd, 1924, O'Connor served in the merchant marine during World War II before attending the University of Montana where he worked on the school newspaper. Before graduating, he followed his brother to another college in Ireland (he would later get a Masters in speech from Montana). It was in Ireland that O'Connor started acting in several local productions. He returned to the U.S. for his Broadway debut in 1958 and shortly after started to appear on numerous TV shows like The Untouchables and Naked City. His first film was Parrish (1961) though he eventually acted in over a dozen films during the Sixties including Cleopatra (1963), Marlowe (1969), Hawaii (1966) and Point Blank (1967). O'Connor even auditioned for the part of the Skipper in the TV series, Gilligan's Island, but it was his role as Archie Bunker in a 1971 sitcom that made him a star. All in the Family was an American version of the British sitcom Till Death Do Us Part that met some initial resistance (ABC rejected the first two pilots) but quickly captivated American audiences and became the country's top-rated TV show. Archie became such an icon that his chair is now preserved in the Smithsonian. The series lasted until 1979 and brought O'Connor four Emmys, even leading to a four-year spinoff Archie Bunker's Place starring O'Connor. (It also produced one of TV's oddest spinoffs in1994's 704 Hauser about a multi-racial family living in Archie Bunker's old house. It had no cast members from the earlier series and only lasted six episodes.) In 1988, O'Connor took the role of a Southern sheriff in a TV series based on the movie In the Heat of the Night and found himself in another hit, this one lasting until 1995. He also occasionally played Helen Hunt's father on Mad About You. By all accounts, O'Connor was nothing like Archie Bunker; in fact, O'Connor was an active anti-drug crusader, partly the result of his son's drug-related suicide.
By Lang Thompson
TCM REMEMBERS JACK LEMMON 1925-2001
Whether playing a cross-dressing jazz bassist or a bickering roommate, Lemmon has kept his fans in stitches for fifty years. But beneath that comedian's facade, the actor had a very serious side, which occasionally surfaced in such films as Days of Wine and Roses (1962) or Costa-Gavras' political thriller Missing (1982). Lemmon was truly a one-of-a-kind actor and his track record for acclaimed performances is truly remarkable: 8 Oscar nominations (he won Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts (1955) and Best Actor for Save the Tiger (1973), a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, 8 British Academy Award nominations, 4 Emmy Award nominations, numerous Golden Globe nominations, a two-time Best Actor winner at the Cannes Film Festival, the list goes on and on.
Lemmon entered the world in a completely novel fashion; he was born prematurely in an elevator in Boston in 1925. The son of a doughnut manufacturer, Lemmon later attended Harvard University but was bitten by the acting bug and left the prestigious college for Broadway. Between theatrical gigs, he played piano accompaniment to silent films shown at the Knickerbocker Music Hall in New York. Later, Lemmon claimed that he learned more about comic technique by watching these Chaplin, Keaton and Harold Lloyd two-reelers than acting school could have ever taught him.
From Broadway and early TV appearances to Hollywood, Lemmon moved West to make his screen debut in It Should Happen to You (1954), opposite Judy Holliday in a variation of her 'dumb blonde' persona that had won her an Oscar for Born Yesterday (1952). In It Should Happen to You, Holliday plays a struggling actress who soon wins fast fame as the product of promotion. Lemmon plays her levelheaded boyfriend but finds himself on the sidelines when the suave and sophisticated Peter Lawford appears on the scene. It Should Happen to You, directed by George Cukor, was a popular success and Lemmon and Holliday were quickly teamed again in Phffft! (1954), another lightweight romantic comedy. A year later, Lemmon hit the major leagues when he supported Hollywood heavyweights Henry Fonda, James Cagney and William Powell in Mister Roberts (1955). As Ensign Pulver, a deckhand who avoids work whenever possible, Lemmon won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar®.
Onscreen, Lemmon's characters often found that they were the wrong men for their jobs. In Cowboy (1958), Lemmon plays a city slicker venturing out on the wild frontier. His romantic visions of the West are soon changed by the hard-living, hard-drinking reality. Cowboy is based on the autobiography of Frank Harris, and, like the author, Lemmon found himself adapting to the rough and tumble lifestyle on the trail.
Lemmon brought a new comic persona to Hollywood films. He combined elements of screwball and slapstick comedy with his own self-deprecating humor to create satiric portraits of the contemporary American male. The sometimes cynical comic sense of director Billy Wilder provided Lemmon with the perfect complement. Together they made seven films, but it was their first, Some Like It Hot (1959), that captured the sheer comic genius of their collaborations together.
From sexual antics to social critique, Lemmon and Wilder sharpened their comic knives on the hypocrisies they saw in American culture. The Apartment (1960) focused on a working stiff who lends his home to his supervisors for their extramarital affairs. Problems arise when Lemmon falls for his boss's paramour - it gets even more complicated when she tries to kill herself in his pad! Though The Apartment was a comic success, with each passing year the film's serious side seems even more dark and derisive. Illicit love and the corruption of big business might not seem to be the stuff of hit comedies, but Wilder and Lemmon found humor in the most unlikeliest of places. Director and comic star went on to make five more films: Irma la Douce (1963), The Fortune Cookie (1966), Avanti! (1972), The Front Page (1974) and Buddy Buddy (1981).
Billy Wilder and Lemmon's lifelong comic foil Walter Matthau (nine collaborations with Lemmon in 32 years, including their most popular film, The Odd Couple, 1968) brought some of the comedian's finest funny moments to the screen. But there was a serious side too. Lemmon waived his salary to act in Save the Tiger (1973), the 'great American tragedy' of a businessman at the end of his rope. Lemmon won his second Academy Award for the film. In Missing (1982), directed by the uncompromising Costa-Gavras, Lemmon played a patriotic father searching for his kidnapped son in Latin America. The closer he gets to his goal, the clearer it becomes that a government conspiracy is behind his son's disappearance. Missing was inspired by a true story - the production was condemned by the Reagan administration and awarded the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival.
Very few actors today can match Lemmon's range on the screen. He has acted in everything from lightweight sex farces (How to Murder Your Wife, 1965) to musicals (My Sister Eileen, 1955) to social dramas (Days of Wine and Roses, 1962) to political thrillers (The China Syndrome, 1979). Turner Classic Movies cherishes the memory of this remarkable talent.
By Cino Niles & Jeff Stafford
ANTHONY QUINN, 1915-2001
Not many actors can boast that they've inspired a Bob Dylan song but Anthony Quinn - who passed away June 3rd at the age of 86 - was one of the select few. But that's just one of many incidents in a life that can only be described as colorful. If a novelist had invented a character like Quinn, she would be accused of unbelievable invention. But in Quinn's case, it's all true.
Quinn was born April 21, 1915 in Mexico. His parents were involved in Pancho Villa's revolutionary struggle and must have made a striking couple since the father was half Irish and mother Mexican Indian. The couple were married on a train of rebel soldiers. After Quinn's birth, the family soon moved to East Los Angeles (after a quick Texas detour) where Quinn grew up in the shadow of Hollywood. (A branch of the Los Angeles County Public Library now occupies the site of Quinn's childhood home; in 1981 it was renamed in his honor.) At the age of 11 he won a sculpture award and shortly after began studying architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright. It was Wright in fact who suggested the possibility of acting to Quinn and even paid for an operation to cure a speech impediment. Along the way, Quinn also dabbled in professional boxing (he quit after his 17th match, the first he lost) and street-corner preaching. He continued to sculpt and paint for the rest of his life while also becoming a noted art collector.
Quinn's acting debut was in 1936 initially in a handful of barely noticable spots as an extra until he landed a speaking role in Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman, supposedly on the recommendation of the film's star, Gary Cooper. One unanticipated result was that Quinn married DeMille's daughter the following year; they appeared together in Phil Karlson's Black Gold (1947) and had five children. Quinn also appeared on stage in 1936 playing opposite Mae West. Quinn continued in film parts that gathered acclaim: Crazy Horse in They Died With Their Boots On (1941), a gambler in The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), a soldier in Guadalcanal Diary (1943).
But it was the 1950s when Quinn broke out. Viva Zapata!(1952) provided him a wonderful role which he used to win a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. Oddly enough, in Viva Zapata! Quinn worked with Marlon Brando who he had replaced in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. (Director Elia Kazan tried to start a rivalry between the two actors but they were great admirers of each other.) Quinn again won Best Supporting Actor playing painter Paul Gauguin Lust for Life (1956) which at the time was the shortest on-screen time to win an acting Oscar. The following year came was a Best Actor nomination for George Cukor's Wild Is the Wind (1957). As he did throughout his career, Quinn rarely hesitated to take work whereever he found it, which resulted in dozens of potboilers like Seven Cities of Gold (1955) but also a few cult favorites like Budd Boetticher's The Magnificent Matador (1955). It was a trip to Italy that brought Quinn one of his most acclaimed roles: a simple-minded circus strongman in Federico Fellini's La Strada (1954). Quinn directed his only film in 1958, The Buccaneer, a commercial failure he later attributed to producer Cecil DeMille's interference. Towards the end of that decade he appeared in Nicholas Ray's The Savage Innocents (1959) as an Eskimo, inspiring Bob Dylan to write "Quinn the Eskimo" (a Top Ten hit for Manfred Mann in 1968). In 1965, his relationship with an Italian costumer created a minor scandal when it was revealed that the couple had two children. Quinn divorced DeMille's daughter and married the costumer.
He continued the same mix of classics and best-forgotten quickies throughout the 1960s and '70s. A key role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) only confirmed his talents while he again earned a Best Actor nomination for the unforgettable lead role in Zorba the Greek (1964). The gritty crime drama Across 110th Street (1972) is one of the best American movies of its decade, enhanced by Quinn's turn as an embattled police captain. Quinn was a pope in The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), an Islamic leader in The Message (1976), a thinly disguised Aristotle Onassis in The Greek Tycoon (1978) and an assortment of gangsters, con men, military leaders and what have you. The rest of his career might be summed up by the year 1991 when he gathered critical acclaim for his appearance in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, was nominated for a Razzie as Worst Actor in Mobsters, co-starred with Bo Derek in Ghosts Can't Do It, worked beside John Candy and Macaulay Culkin in Chris Columbus' Only the Lonely and made a film so obscure it appears to have never appeared on video. Quinn married his third wife in 1997; they had one son. He had just completed the title role in Avenging Angelo (with Sylvester Stallone) at the time of his death.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Carroll O'Connor
My breasts are full of love and life. My hips are round and well apart. Such women, they say, have sons.- Cleopatra
You will kneel.- Cleopatra
I will what?!- Antony
On your knees.- Cleopatra
Queens. Queens. Strip them naked as any other woman, they are no longer queens.- Antony
It is also difficult to tell the rank of a naked general. Generals without armies are naked indeed.- Rufio
The way to prevent war is to be ready for it!- Cleopatra
Have 300 warships ever been built for war without war?- Sosigenes
Well versed in the natural sciences and mathematics. She speaks seven languages proficiently. Were she not a woman one would consider her to be an intellectual.- Agrippa
A clerical error on the part of the Academy cost Roddy McDowall an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Adjusting for inflation, this is the most expensive movie ever made to date (mid-1999). Its budget of $44 million is equivalent to 270 million 1999 dollars.
'Taylor, Elizabeth' had a motion picture record 65 costume changes for this film. The figure is exceeded by 'Collins, Joan' ' 85 costume changes in the TV movie, "Sins" (1988). Coincidentally, Collins was set to star as Cleopatra before Taylor was signed.
In 1958 'Collins, Joan' was cast in the title role but after several delays she became unavailable. Collins had previously starred in a similar role in Land of the Pharaohs (1955). After Collins' departure, Audrey Hepburn was considered as a replacement by producer Walter Wanger. Wanger then offered the role to 'Taylor, Elizabeth' . He called her on the set of her latest film, Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) and related the offer through Taylor's then husband Eddie Fisher who had answered the phone. As a joke, Taylor replied "Sure, tell him I'll do it for a million dollars." This then unheard-of sum was accepted and in October 1959 Taylor became the first Hollywood star to receive $1 million for a single picture.
Soon after shooting began in England, Taylor became ill and could not work. As her presence was required for almost every scene production soon closed down. Eventually Director Rouben Mamoulian resigned on January 3rd 1961. He was followed by stars Peter Finch and Stephen Boyd who had to honor prior commitments.
Location scenes filmed in Italy (Torre Astura, Anzio, Ischia, and Lanuvio); Egypt (Alexandria, Edkou, and desert locales); and Spain (Almeria). Opened in London in August 1963; running time: 215 min. Earlier footage by Mamoulian included in the final version.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1963 New York Times Film Critics.
Released in United States Summer June 19, 1963
Released in United States on Video April 3, 2001
Fox Home Entertainment's DVD release features the original 243 minute cut.
Earlier footage by Ruben Mamoulian was included in the final version. The film was originally budgeted for $2,000,000.
Released in 35mm and 70mm prints.
Released in USA on laserdisc 1990.
Released in United States Summer June 19, 1963
Released in United States on Video April 3, 2001