Cleopatra (1934)

Rated 3.0

It’s interesting how easily yesterday’s prestige picture can become today’s camp howler. Cecil B. DeMille’s broad take on Cleopatra was nominated for five Academy Awards in 1934, including Best Picture, but today there are few scenes that don’t play like Mel Brooks outtakes. Spit-take-inducing lines like, “Think of Egypt? Always Egypt!” would probably sound funnier coming from Madeline Kahn, but that would deny us the pleasure of seeing the apple-cheeked beauty Claudette Colbert decked out in a series of revealing sheaths and silly headdresses. Colbert plays the pluckiest Cleopatra on record—she and Julius Caesar might as well be rival newspaper reporters—and while the production is wildly uneven, her ridiculously lavish seduction of Mark Antony has to be seen to be believed.