Would you buy a Cleopatra: Director's Cut?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Andrew Budgell, Apr 2, 2002.

  1. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    When the film Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Rex Harrison was originally released back in 1963, it was not a critical success. Many fans feel the reason for that is because it is 'choppy.' That reason is because at it's current 4-hour legnth, was edited down from 6-hours. Most of Elizabeth Taylor's best scenes were left on the cutting room floor. At the time of it's release, one critic said that, "At 6-hours, Cleopatra may have been a good film, at 4 it's a preview of something that will never come." But now, that may be changed. According to last April's DVD release of Cleopatra, Fox Execs and director Mankiewizc family are hard at work trying to locate the missing footage. My question for you is:

    If a Director's Cut eventually comes about, would you purchase a copy of the film on DVD? I also would love to hear your thoughts on the flm, and the recent DVD release.

    Thanks for listening!

    Andrew Budgell
     
  2. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I thought it was originally TWO films, "Cleopatra and Caesar" and "Cleopatra and Marc Anthony". And it was combined to cut the overall length. Would this new version create TWO 3-hour films?
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Cleopatra was to be two films, with a total running time of slightly less than 5 hours, not six.

    Other than a scene at the opening of the film which had

    both Cleopatra and and brother in their tents prepared for battle, the most important scenes lost involved Roddy McDowall, not Elizabeth Taylor. The opening of the film, as it now exists...

    didn't.

    RAH
     
  4. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    And there we have it, thank you Mr. Harris

    That said, I'd still be interested in seeing the lost footage
     
  5. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    I would buy that in a Hollywood minute.

    In fact, I'd write a check for three copies right now if Fox committed to a restoration.
     
  6. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    To be honest, I'd like to see this as two movies. Cleopatra, for me, manages to be both choppy and abbreviated feeling, and yet also a bit long at 4 hours. I think I could handle two 2.5 hour movies better.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't mind length, I can watch all 9 hours of Godfather in one day. Just something about Cleopatra as it stands now that makes sitting through it a little bit hard.
     
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    As a point of (very) general reference, there are many films which, when cut for time and not quality, seem much longer in their short versions than in their longer cuts. The most notorious cases probably being the 187 minute cut of Lawrence and the 161 of Spartacus.

    Cleopatra would be a far superior film in its intended version.

    For those too young to remember that Century City was originally the Fox back lot, it may also be instructive to understand why (at least a major reason) the film was cut down. Fox had run out of money; the studio was all but shut down; and all hopes were placed upon Cleopatra to in some way bring the studio back to life. Two 2 1/2 hour films probably would not have helped.

    As much I as I deplore seeing the work of a filmmaker the quality of Mr. Mankiewicz shorn of its artistry, I cannot honestly say that if I were in Mr. Zanuck's shoes I would have done things differently.

    RAH
     
  8. Jonathan Perregaux

    Jonathan Perregaux Screenwriter

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    I liked this movie, but I too got a sense that something far greater could be made of this. I absolutely would buy this again if it was reconstructed and re-released as a duology.
    It's interesting that the DVD format has instigated such a fervent interest in restoring and reconstucting classics such as Touch of Evil as well as many others. Let's hope this trend continues and gives studios the dollar signs they need to pour into this ongoing effort.
     
  9. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Although Mr. Harris' comments probably have rescued this thread from the dustbin of Polls, I'll chime in that I'd definitely buy the DC; I should think that nearly anyone who bought this in the theatrical version would be intrigued enough about what it might have been to want to see the full version.

    So, anyone know if the search has turned up anything? I didn't think it sounded too hopeful, but if Mad World trims can surface, anything's possible.
     
  10. Dmitry

    Dmitry Supporting Actor

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  11. James David Walley

    James David Walley Stunt Coordinator

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  12. Randall Dorr

    Randall Dorr Second Unit

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    You won't get flayed by me.
    I can't say I've seen the shortened version (149 min.), but I think the film at 219 minutes is a masterpiece. It's the anti-western audiences wouldn't accept for more than a decade (Unforgiven). Heaven's Gate continues to be eviscerated by people who have either only seen the short version, or haven't seen it at all. And in Final Cut: Dreams and disaster in the making of Heaven's Gate by Steven Bach, he states that the first cut was five hours and twenty-five minutes.
     
  13. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    in a word

    YES!!!

    I would sell my grandmother for the long version of Cleo.

    You can tell theres a masterpiece itching to get out there, just that crackling mankiewicz dialogue alone makes it worthwhile.

    RAH - ive heard things from our friend that all the footage exists at fox, only in B+W and sans sound...

    I also understood that another reason for combining the films was also the concern that the publicity furor over the Taylor Burton affair would die down by the time that the second film that had more than 10 minutes of Burton was released.....
     
  14. Jacob_St

    Jacob_St Second Unit

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    So the AMC documentary on the making of Cleopatra is not correct? I saw it about six months ago and it went into detail about how the movie was to be two three hour films. Because of the massive overbudget fiasco Fox told the director to combine both films and he delivered a five and a half hour cut which the studio ordered him to cut to four hours. According to the documentary the director pleaded with the studio to allow him to reinstate the five and half hour cut for several years after Cleopatra was released.
     
  15. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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    This has always been one of my favorite films...so YES, I'd be one of the first in line for a Director's Cut!!! [​IMG]
    I love the costumes, the drama (especially backstage), and the epic production. It does seem choppy at times...so a smoother, longer version would be the best thing to happen to film restoration EVER!
     
  16. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I would just like to join the chorus here and say that I, too, would buy a Cleopatra director's cut and would also be willing to sell Moe's grandmother for it. [​IMG]
    Regards,
     
  17. Darren Gross

    Darren Gross Supporting Actor

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    This is an extremely exciting project and very tantalizing, should it happen. While I would definitely buy it on DVD, I would much prefer to see it shown theatrically in 70mm over two nights. All 70mm films need to be experienced in that format on a big screen...Video is great, but even D-VHS projected on the best home system can't compare to that experience.
     
  18. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    i'd buy it in a heartbeat. in cases like this, it's fascinating to see the original release, produced under the limitations of time, budget, studio politics and pressure, and compare that to the intent of the director, as shown in the less limited Directors Cut.
     
  19. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    I am reviving this thread because I bought the DVD yesterday.
    I watched the first 60 minutes of the documentary, very impressive indeed the troubled history of the filming of Cleopatra.
    Would I buy the DC ? Absolutely
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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