Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 138 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

In its time, Caesar and Cleopatra was the most lavish British film ever produced and was both a financial and critical disappointment. Viewed today, the flaws are obvious, but its virtues are also more apparent. On the debit side, the film is wildly overproduced with all of the money spent on spectacle getting in the way of what at heart is a character study cum sociological tract. Author George Bernard Shaw is known for writing "talky" plays. Those who savor his sharp wit, incisive observations, and marvelous facility with words will find much to enjoy in Caesar. But those who believe that movies are a medium that need to tell stories in as visual a manner as possible will largely be bored by Caesar -- and not without reason, as Gabriel Pascal has directed in a lumbering and plodding manner almost throughout. The stars are well cast, with Vivien Leigh an alluring and fiery Cleopatra and Claude Rains appropriately cynical and withering as Caesar. And there's able support from the delicious Flora Robson and a virile Stewart Granger. Ultimately, there's both good and bad in Caesar, and a viewer's reaction to it will largely depend upon his willingness to sit through an elephantine production to enjoy Shaw's remarkable wordplay.