Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Director: Gabriel Pascal
Starring: Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh, Stewart Granger

After the assassination of Pompey, Julius Caesar moves to claim Egypt for Rome and install a young Cleopatra on the throne, who must learn the hard lessons of what it means to be Queen.

I've long been a fan of George Bernard Shaw. I find his plays rather well-written and witty, so I was looking forward to this film adaptation. I wasn't expecting an epic on such a scale, but this could easily rival the big productions of the 60s. Large, lavish sets and good costuming all amidst the deprivations of World War II. Really quite impressive. There are strong performances throughout the cast, but the leads really shine here. Claude Rains makes an amazing Caesar and Vivien Leigh does an impressive job of making you believe she's a good ten years younger than she is and shows impressive range to match Cleopatra's development as a character. There's a good mix of drama and comedy and the dialog is often razor-sharp.

Shaw boasted of making a superior Caesar to Shakespeare's. I'll leave that judgment to more qualified critics than me, but superior or not, this Caesar is definitely the more entertaining one. Check it out.

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