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on 5 February 2018
I've actually seen this play in the theatre, many years ago, when Shaw's plays were still performed. It starred John Gielgud (far too old & skinny) as Caesar & the young Anna Calder Marshall, who stole the show as the Egyptian sex kitten with claws!
Vivien Leigh is not that different, giving a portrayal of the Last Pharaoh that isn't too far from the historical reality - selfish, insecure, ruthless when it suited her. (Cleopatra was the product of an incestuous, fratricidal dynasty & almost certainly murdered her own sister.)
Claude Rains' Julius Caesar, by contrast, bears little resemblance to the historical man.....he is humorous, laid back even, avuncular, & the mouthpiece for much of Bernard Shaw's mischievous philosophising......what's left of it, that is, because inevitably it has been reworked for the Big Screen.
My overall impression of that 1971 stage performance was that "Caesar & Cleopatra" is, like so many of Shaw's plays, more of a debate than a drama. Surprisingly, this 1940s film screenplay is by GBS himself, though whether he really was responsible for writing the battle scenes & outdoor action sequences I rather doubt. The film strives to be an epic, often anticipating the disastrous Burton/Taylor effort of the Sixties.
It looks good, costumes look authentic & the supporting cast is strong: Flora Robson, Stewart Granger looking like a young Hercules, Basil Sydney, Alan Wheatley. Look out, too, for Jean Simmons & Jon Laurie in tiny roles.
I can't agree with the earlier reviewer who disparages Vivien Leigh because of her voice: that's how actresses were trained to speak in those days. Beware of patronising the past.
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on 27 September 2017
After WWII, this humorous account, if not exactly "Carry on Cleo", is perhaps antidote to sombreness of warfare. Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra ?Usually the tragedienne, she wasn't bad. "The best picture ever produced" ? A tall order. And I only gave it 4 Stars ! Surely, you should throw me into the Nile, as croc-feed !!! As for Cleopatra, no asp-in-the-basket appeared in conclusion !
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on 30 April 2014
The film is a remarkably faithful and effective presentation of George Bernard Shaw's impossible-to-stage play. In contrast with Shakespeare's (or Kenneth Williams's!) portrayal, it shows Caesar as a philosophical but charismatic leader who has learned wisdom through his earlier mistakes, and imparts it readily to others. We know his eventual fate, of course, but on departing from Egypt he makes clear his preference for an assassin's knife rather than a natural death.
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on 19 April 2017
a cracker
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on 18 March 2009
Wonderful film. Excellent transfer to DVD. Vivien Leigh easily outshines the later portrayal by Elizabeth Taylor. Claude Rains is superb as Caesar. Easily Flora Robson's best performance as well. Highly recommended.
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on 3 February 2018
Much better than the one available in the USA!
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on 31 October 2016
This is a brilliantly successful film adaptation of Shaw's play, and I'm very glad to have it. It arrived in the USA in perfect condition.
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on 14 October 2013
thourghly enjoyed this film would highly recommend it , one that you will want to watch over and over again
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on 6 March 2015
Interesting film, in good condition.
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on 15 April 2015
Exactly what I expected
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