Still in Philly, but Saturday Night Cinema will go on! Tonight's fabulous feature is the supreme Cecil B. De Mille's Cleopatra, starring Claudette Colbert, Warren William and Henry Wilcoxon.
Cleopatra (1934) NY Times film review:
Claudette Colbert, Warren William and Henry Wilcoxon in C.B. De Mille's "Cleopatra."
By MORDAUNT HALL.Published: August 17, 1934
Cecil B. De Mille, who has contributed to the screen such opulent films as "The Ten Commandments," "The King of Kings" and "The Sign of the Cross," presented last night before a specially invited gathering in the Paramount his widely heralded production, "Cleopatra." This current picture is one of the director's most ambitious spectacles. It has substantial, decorative settings, a wealth of minor properties, an imposing array of histrionic talent and an army of extras.
"Cleopatra" reveals Mr. De Mille in an emphatically lavish, but nevertheless a relatively restrained mood. He may not neglect to dwell upon Cleopatra's amorous behavior and has evidently preferred that she does not overdress. But, even so, the scenes wherein she is beheld are less blatant than those he has depicted of other sorceresses in previous films.
Claudette Colbert, the Poppaea of "The Sign of the Cross," is entrusted with the part of Cleopatra. She wears a dark wig and looks even more attractive than usual. She speaks her lines with the necessary confidence, whether they are concerned with love, hate or politics. When it is a matter of disposing of Pothinos with a javelin, she conducts herself with the coolness of a queen of the olden days. And when the chance is offered for a little comedy she acquits herself cleverly.
Julius Caesar is portrayed by "Warren William, who shines in his rôle. There are moments when the dialogue is reminiscent of the Shakespearean speech and other occasions when it is so modern that one almost expects Mighty Caesar to have a typewriter and telephone at his elbow, as when he, while in Egypt, dictates a letter to the Roman Senators. Mr. William is especially apt when it comes to delivering a brief line, such as "Take it away," when he wishes the body of the treacherous Pothinos removed from his sight.
Caesar's first sight of Cleopatra is when she appears from a carpet as it is unrolled. He thinks that it is a "good joke" when she declares that she is Cleopatra. After having attempted to gain his interest, she finally hazards something about India's wealth, and then the bright-eyed siren knows that she has found favor in Caesar's eyes.
With its magnificent backgrounds, each episode affords much interest. There are the three men plotting the murder of Caesar in the Roman baths, and later Mr. De Mille gives even a more expansive view of the baths, a feature seldom neglected by the director in any of his productions. When a gathering of Roman women are talking about Caesar, it is done in the modern fashion, with one of the fair ones remarking that "the wife always is the last to hear" of her husband's love affairs.
In those scenes showing Caesar's return to Rome from Egypt with the audacious Cleopatra, Mr. De Mille has drawn on his fertile imagination and spared no expense. After the assassination of Caesar Cleopatra employs her feminine wiles to win Marc Antony, whose rôle is interpreted by the English actor, Henry Wilcoxon, a fine figure of a man. His acting is excellent, especially in the more dramatic sequences.
CLEOPATRA, directed by Cecil B. DeMille; a Paramount production. At the Paramount.
Cleopatra . . . . . Claudette Colbert
Julius Caesar . . . . . Warren William
Marc Antony . . . . . Henry Wilcoxon
Calpurnia . . . . . Gertrude Michael
Herod . . . . . Joseph Schildkraut
Octavian . . . . . Ian Keith
Enobarbus . . . . . C. Aubrey Smith
Cassius . . . . . Ian MacLaren
Brutus . . . . . Arthur Hohl
Pothinos . . . . . Leonard Mudie
Appollodorus . . . . . Irving Pichel
Octavia . . . . . Claudia Dell
Charmian . . . . . Eleanor Phelps
Drussus . . . . . John Rutherford
Iras . . . . . Grace Durkin
Achillas . . . . . Robert Warwick
Casca . . . . . Edwin Maxwell
Cicero . . . . . Charles Morris
A Soothsayer . . . . . Harry Beresford