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 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 1:56 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)



Right at this moment one of the most dreadful films of all time - a British production - is playing on TV: "Shalako". It's not restored (why would they!?) and it has an 'international cast'. Jack Hawkins, Peter van Eyck, Stephen Boyd (now he was a great actor!), Brigid Bardot and the main star is Sean Connery. Music by Robert Farnon. A de Grunwald Production.

I have to ask, WHY? They're all standing around in a 'set piece', looking over-costumed and made up and just, plain incongruous in their desert locale. Not to mention the endless zoom in/zoom out photography and faux French-new-Wave editing. Terrible.
.


As a German/British co-production, filmed in Spain, with an international cast and an American director I'm not sure that qualifies as a British film anyway smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 6:23 AM   
 By:   robprince   (Member)

I agree that Liz is really very good in Cleopatra, especially in the first half. The whole tone of the film is quite modern and theatrical, and her personality is perfectly in tune. I also think the Burton's TAMING OF THE SHREW is one of the most delightful of Shakespeare adaptations.

Let's face it....no modern era epic can come close to BEN HUR , SPARTACUS, EL CID, LAWRENCE, CLEO, etc. Those films had literate screenplays, REAL movie stars, and masterful directors. They all stand up and even improve with age.

 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 8:41 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

)All these films play better in a movie theater -- what I wont give to see the ones you mention and many more back in theaters.

It was certainly great seeing Ben-Hur, Spartacus and El Cid back in cinemas in limited release in the early 90s. I'm sure there'd still be an audience for such juicy fare, particularly among those cheesed-off with the current comic book sequel/psychological horror/hard-boiled-serial-killer-hunting-detective output. (Not to mention those delightfully tasteful goofball Ben Stiller/Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell "comedies"). Even with the popularity of home cinema, dimensions like B-H's 2.75:1 just aren't viable on ye olde TV; the wow factor just isn't there.


While you may be right about the appetite for old gold in large metropolitan areas, I can only think about my experience a few months back when I attended a big screen showing of the glorious digital restoration of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA at a theater in the Austin TX area... There was me, and...well, that was it. Advertised for at least a month preceding, on posters and on the theater's website, and one guy in the theater. I'm glad it was me -- awesome film, never looked better. I hope they keep doing that for me, as I'd love to see BEN-HUR, SPARTACUS etc. on the big screen again, in digitally-restored pristine condition! I personally don't care if nobody else comes, other than a twinge of sadness that just about everybody else will have missed something very much worth experiencing.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 9:08 AM   
 By:   Bob Bryden   (Member)

A very interesting thread - even with the detours. I watched the blu-ray a few weeks ago. I side with those who talk about 'Cleo' not aging well and it's mostly Liz's fault. Her buxom 60's look just doesn't ring my antiquity chime. Her voice is completely irritating. What saves the film and makes it still worth watching to any degree are the production values - which are overwhelming and Alex North's score. The latter is one of the benchmark musical works for cinema. I am a total sucker for the roadshow releases of the 50's and 60's and especially the large format films. Todd-AO, etc. It is the sheer, pre-CGI real-set grandeur of these films that renders them timeless despite all the other dated or incongruous elements. (Same with 'Fall of the Roman Empire', '55 Days at Peking', etc. etc.)

Bob, I can only say that I agreed with you about Elizabeth's voice for the character of Cleopatra when I first saw it in theaters and later on video. But when I saw it last month on the big screen in dolby digital , her voice did not bother me as it once did - I even thought (in this uncut version) "she isnt as strident or as shrill as I remember") -- it isnt a perfect voice trained for a role from antiquity ( stage trained voices are better, usually) but her vocal quality improves as the story unfolds IMO.
All these films play better in a movie theater -- what I wont give to see the ones you mention and many more back in theaters.


It would certainly be interesting to see this one on the big screen again. I recently saw 'The Great Escape' in a cinema and it was a real treat.

 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 9:14 AM   
 By:   Uhtred   (Member)

While you may be right about the appetite for old gold in large metropolitan areas, I can only think about my experience a few months back when I attended a big screen showing of the glorious digital restoration of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA at a theater in the Austin TX area... There was me, and...well, that was it. Advertised for at least a month preceding, on posters and on the theater's website, and one guy in the theater. I'm glad it was me -- awesome film, never looked better. I hope they keep doing that for me, as I'd love to see BEN-HUR, SPARTACUS etc. on the big screen again, in digitally-restored pristine condition! I personally don't care if nobody else comes, other than a twinge of sadness that just about everybody else will have missed something very much worth experiencing.

At my work, whenever we've had screenings of old films, the turnout has been minimal. Whether that's down to bad advertising or just lack of interest by the public, I don't know. I do know that I had a great time watching Hitchcock's 39 Steps on the big screen. Although that was a British film made before 1970 so I'm not sure if that's allowed wink

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 10:26 AM   
 By:   cinemel1   (Member)

Saw Cleopatra at a Regal cinema here on Long Island. Only 8 people in the theater.
They all seemed to be enjoying the wonderful quality of the print. They laughed in all the right places.
Of course, the overture, entr'acte & exit music were included and a 15 minute intermission.
The film held up very well. I had seen it twice in its original run at the Rivoli in NY. I noticed many details I never noticed before in any video incarnation. Taylor was at her most beautiful.
The score sounded quite good, as if the orchestra was there behind the screen. Not much surround
sound. The voices and sound effects were not up to what we are used to today. The beautiful frescoes under the main title and at various other points in the film were detailed as I never appreciated on home screens. I was sorry to see Rex Harrison go at the midpoint. However,
Burton seemed a lot better than I remembered. His makeup was even a bit evident trying to cover up an acne-scarred face. All in all quite worthwhile. I paid $4.50 to see it 50 years ago. Last month we paid $9.50, not bad. They should have showed it on the IMAX screen, but I guess they weren't going to give up the admissions from the new Star Trek film.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 11:46 AM   
 By:   Don Norman   (Member)

I just bought the LAWRENCE Blu-ray box set at Fry's Electronics for $29.99:

http://www.frys.com/search?search_type=regular&sqxts=1&query_string=7287933&submit.x=23&submit.y=5&cat=0

It's a tremendous discount from their regular price of $63.99. The sale is on thru Thursday.

 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 12:59 PM   
 By:   Jeff Bond   (Member)

I don't buy blu-rays with the same obsessiveness I originally (and foolishly) did with DVDs but one thing I make a point to buy is these old epics, because I love watching all the detail of REAL people and sets on that kind of scale in HD.
Is Shalako really worse than McKenna's Gold? Probably, I guess, but it's a fine line.
Burton's acting reputation really came from the stage--he was hailed as the next Olivier until he moved into film. Among other things he was quickly and easily bored, so through a long production he was likely to lose interest in his role and it often showed in his performance.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 1:21 PM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)

Last year , BEN-HUR played the US Regal cinemas nationwide for one day only in February and it looked and sounded wonderful -- in DCP -- I was thrilled to see it and so were the dozen or so others there for the matinee . There was not much advertizing so I was glad not to find an empty cinema .

When I saw CLEOPATRA last month at Regal , there was quite a large turnout and again little publicity. Since this Roadshow version has never played theaters in this area ever, it was quite a treat although Im sure most people attending did not know that -- but I think most viewers left impressed. I certainly was.

Hopefully this trend of showing classics back in Cineplexes continues.

 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 1:32 PM   
 By:   Jeff Bond   (Member)

We have the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, an awesome revival theater, and any time one of these epics shows the audiences are pretty large. Think I got to see Ben-Hur with Heston in attendance.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 5:02 PM   
 By:   paul rossen   (Member)

Saw Cleopatra at a Regal cinema here on Long Island. Only 8 people in the theater.
They all seemed to be enjoying the wonderful quality of the print. They laughed in all the right places.
Of course, the overture, entr'acte & exit music were included and a 15 minute intermission.
The film held up very well. I had seen it twice in its original run at the Rivoli in NY. I noticed many details I never noticed before in any video incarnation. Taylor was at her most beautiful.
The score sounded quite good, as if the orchestra was there behind the screen. Not much surround
sound. The voices and sound effects were not up to what we are used to today. The beautiful frescoes under the main title and at various other points in the film were detailed as I never appreciated on home screens. I was sorry to see Rex Harrison go at the midpoint. However,
Burton seemed a lot better than I remembered. His makeup was even a bit evident trying to cover up an acne-scarred face. All in all quite worthwhile. I paid $4.50 to see it 50 years ago. Last month we paid $9.50, not bad. They should have showed it on the IMAX screen, but I guess they weren't going to give up the admissions from the new Star Trek film.


I was one of the 8. I thought it was 6 but then I wasn't counting the 'house'. Agree with everything you stated as I too saw it early in it's run at the Rivoli and this was the first time since seeing it complete in a theatre. The music really stood out as did the whole presentation. Quite unlike the disastrous Ben-Hur showing last year or was it two years ago at Alice Tully Hall.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 6:24 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

)All these films play better in a movie theater -- what I wont give to see the ones you mention and many more back in theaters.

It was certainly great seeing Ben-Hur, Spartacus and El Cid back in cinemas in limited release in the early 90s. I'm sure there'd still be an audience for such juicy fare, particularly among those cheesed-off with the current comic book sequel/psychological horror/hard-boiled-serial-killer-hunting-detective output. (Not to mention those delightfully tasteful goofball Ben Stiller/Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell "comedies"). Even with the popularity of home cinema, dimensions like B-H's 2.75:1 just aren't viable on ye olde TV; the wow factor just isn't there.


While you may be right about the appetite for old gold in large metropolitan areas, I can only think about my experience a few months back when I attended a big screen showing of the glorious digital restoration of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA at a theater in the Austin TX area... There was me, and...well, that was it. Advertised for at least a month preceding, on posters and on the theater's website, and one guy in the theater. I'm glad it was me -- awesome film, never looked better. I hope they keep doing that for me, as I'd love to see BEN-HUR, SPARTACUS etc. on the big screen again, in digitally-restored pristine condition! I personally don't care if nobody else comes, other than a twinge of sadness that just about everybody else will have missed something very much worth experiencing.


That's a little sad to hear, Dana. When I attended the various re-releases in the 90s there were good turnouts--and these were several week runs! Ben-Hur received healthy applause at the end, and at El Cid I heard a guy comment to his partner, "This film has lost nothing over the years".
Have things really changed so much in 20 years? Is it that large home screens has sapped the appetite for cinema re-runs? I hope not, as even a 60" screen is not going to give you the glory that was Ben-Hur in a well-equipped cinema. And of course part of the cinema experience is sharing it with others, soaking up the comments, seeing the emotion on people's faces as you leave. Few who were lucky enough to see B-H, Spartacus, Lawrence etc in first-run releases in the 60s will ever forget it.

You know, it could be that they're all philistines in Austin Texas. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 3:00 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

I don't buy blu-rays with the same obsessiveness I originally (and foolishly) did with DVDs but one thing I make a point to buy is these old epics, because I love watching all the detail of REAL people and sets on that kind of scale in HD.
Is Shalako really worse than McKenna's Gold? Probably, I guess, but it's a fine line.
Burton's acting reputation really came from the stage--he was hailed as the next Olivier until he moved into film. Among other things he was quickly and easily bored, so through a long production he was likely to lose interest in his role and it often showed in his performance.


Wow, I agree with all this post (it happends sometimes). I bought DVD's like they were going out of fashion & lost count of the DVD's since given to charity shops with ever being looked at (& many with the shrink-wrap still on). I now buy Blu-rays like I buy soundtrack CD's, I really have to want them. I do make a point of buying all the epics & Roadshows, as they contain things you just don't get today, great photography, great music scores, big stars, real (sometimes jaw dropping) sets, & a lot of real people, not just computer pixels...& they're a lot of fun.

Shalako is worse than McKenna's Gold, but it's a photo finish!
There's a very good (& very thick!) biog. of Richard Burton by Tom Rubython ("And God Created Burton"), & I think it was booze more than boredom, it looks like they all drunk big time then, incl. Liz. The book is very good about all the goings on during the making of Cleopatra, & the stupid, stupid criminal waste that went on then. I'd have to lay the blame on studio head Spyros P. Skouras & producer Walter Wanger, both way out of their depth, all the madness would never have happened with Darryl F. Zanuck. Anyone notice that Liz Taylor gets a bit tubbier as the film goes on? All those months hanging around with all that lovely Italian food & wine.

 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 11:43 AM   
 By:   Jeff Bond   (Member)

Liz was gorgeous--not an authentic-looking Cleopatra, but pretty delicious-looking and worthy of her reputation for beauty at the time.
Has anyone seen HBO's Rome? There's a great Cleopatra storyline there and probably a more authentic-looking version of Cleopatra.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 11:55 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

I love the way they played around with history in Rome (a great series), like Cleopatra's child just might not be Caesar's, but might have been fathered by a common soldier who got lucky!

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 11:56 AM   
 By:   waxmanman35   (Member)

Liz was gorgeous--not an authentic-looking Cleopatra, but pretty delicious-looking and worthy of her reputation for beauty at the time.
Has anyone seen HBO's Rome? There's a great Cleopatra storyline there and probably a more authentic-looking version of Cleopatra.


I saw the HBO Rome. While the show's Cleopatra was closer to what historians believe how she may have looked, the story jumped the shark with a crack-head pot-smoking Cleo.

I first saw the roadshow "Cleopatra" at the Rivoli in New York City, about two weeks after it had opened and after Fox had trimmed about twenty minutes from its four hour length. I still love the film and saw it presented in 70mm about two years ago during a Fox tribute by the Lincoln Center Film Society. I think one of the reasons the second half doesn't compare as favorably to the first (besides Harrison's Caesar's demise) is that it's tragedy, and also that Antony was presented as weak and vacillating and completely under the thumb of Cleopatra (which apparently is not far from the historical perception). I recall that in the scene where Antony slaps Cleopatra a cheer was raised by the audience, reflecting audience attitudes at the time.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 12:41 PM   
 By:   MikeyKW   (Member)

Cleopatra was probably not the great beauty that Liz Taylor presented, although she was very intelligent, well read, and was one of the only Ptolomys who actually learned the Egyptian language and culture and travelled quite extensively. At the time ships that arrived in Alexandria were searched for books: any found were taken and copied. The originals were kept at the Library at Alexadria and the copies were returned.

Most of what has been written about Cleopatra was written by Roman historians who despised her and sought to portray her incorrectly as a promiscuous seductress of "fine and upstanding" Roman men. The version of Cleopatra presented in TV's Rome was hugely inaccurate.

 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 1:36 PM   
 By:   SoundScope   (Member)

I love the film precisely for all the faults mentioned and a good many more. Mess that it is, the whole thing is astounding for its excess. It is a product of its time.

As Judith Crist wrote in her original 1963 review, it was a "... monumental mouse."

But again, what a beautifu mouse indeed.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 11:23 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

I'm afraid Judith would have to explain that to me. Or maybe you can.

 
 Posted:   Jul 2, 2013 - 12:53 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

Cleopatra was probably not the great beauty that Liz Taylor presented.

You're right:

 
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