Cleopatra (1917)





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Cleopatra Photos

Movie Info

By 1917, Theda Bara had become one of the screen's biggest stars, and her fans had long been suggesting that she portray ancient Egypt's famed queen. So Bara's studio, Fox, shipped her out to Los Angeles for this spectacular production (all of her prior films had been shot on the East Coast). Bara did extensive research on the role, and she knew that Cleopatra was a cunning political leader; the studio, of course, played up the sex angle, so she comes across as a woman who, if she didn't sleep her way to the top, at least slept her way through the top. She first seduces Caesar (Fritz Leiber), then after his assassination, she turns her adversary Pharon (Albert Roscoe) into a lover. Finally, Marc Antony (Thurston Hall) tries to conquer Cleopatra but instead is conquered by her charms. Even marriage to Octavia (Genevieve Blinn) can't keep him from joining his destiny with the Queen of the Nile. It turns out to be his downfall, as Octavia's brother Octavius (Henri de Vries) opposes and defeats him, and he is forced to kill himself. Instead of using the dagger like Antony, Cleopatra prefers the drama of being bitten by a poisonous snake. The studio's publicity department had a field day with the promotion for this picture -- this was when they came up with the brilliant insight that the name "Theda Bara" was an anagram for "Arab Death." Bara herself went along with the fun, first claiming to be the reincarnation of a daughter of Seti, high priest of the pharaohs, and then insisting that in a past life she was Cleopatra herself. Years later, long after the end of her career, she gleefully admitted it was all a wonderful joke. Unfortunately, the film itself, which ran over two hours and was one of the top box office draws of 1917, has apparently been lost. This is especially tragic, since still photos of the elaborate sets and shockingly bare costumes only serve to heighten curiosity about this motion picture.
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Fox Film Corporation


Theda Bara
as Cleopatra
Fritz Leiber
as Caesar
Thurston Hall
as Antony
Herschel Mayall
as Ventidius
Alan Roscoe
as Pharon
Henri de Vries
as Octavius
Dorothy Drake
as Charmian
Hector V. Sarno
as Messenger
Art Acord
as Kephren
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Critic Reviews for Cleopatra

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Audience Reviews for Cleopatra


Sadly we will never know about this movie.Only a few clips survive of this 1st epic movie. I will still give it a rating. becouse it's the first Cleopatra movie that inspired and set the bar for all others that were to come. It employed at that time an unheard of 2000 extras, Huge sets, and broke all the major rules for being very risque. (Theda Bara's costumes were almost none exsistant) When they came out with a set of codes, most copies were destroyed bcouse of being so risque. then the last 2 survivng copies along with many other silent films were lost due to fires. I give this flick 4and 1/2 stars for being so daring and for being the first ever Cleopatra film. I am also the first on flixster to write any thing about this iconic lost film.


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