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Cleopatra (1963) Review


Weak
It is virtually impossible to separate Cleopatra the movie from Cleopatra the spectacle -- and that's because they are truly and rarely intertwined.

A legend of Hollywood, the 1963 production of Cleopatra has so much curiosity surrounding it I hardly know where to start. It was budgeted at $2 million and eventually cost (up to) $44 million to produce -- close to $300 million in today's dollars. Liz Taylor almost died during the filming and was given a tracheotomy to keep her alive. The production was forced to move from Rome to London and back to Rome again. Two of its stars fell in love (Taylor and Burton) on the set, ruining both of their marriages. 20th Century Fox essentially went bankrupt, leading to the ousting of its chief. The first director was fired after burning $7 million with nothing to show for it. The second director (Mankiewicz) was fired during editing, only to be rehired when no one else could finish the picture. Taylor threw up the first time she saw the finished product. Producer Walter Wanger never worked in Hollywood again. And the original six-hour epic was cut to a little over three.

Continue reading: Cleopatra (1963) Review

Animal House Review


Extraordinary
Youthful indescretion knows no better friend in cinema than the movie that defines it, Animal House. Every frame of the film typifies how every American recalls his college years, whether or not they were filled with debauchery. Especially beloved is John Belushi as Delta Tau Chi's Bluto, the worst cut-up in the most obnoxious fraternity at Faber College (motto: Knowledge is Good), but the entire cast is so perfect -- from Tom Hulce to Bruce McGill to Donald Sutherland -- that one has trouble finding a sour spot in the entire picture. Of note is the new Collector's Edition DVD, which features a 45-minute present-day interview with the cast and crew about the making of the film, plus behind-the-scenes footage of the production. A gem.

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