Would you buy a Cleopatra: Director's Cut?

JParker

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I just found out about this thread. Does anyone here know if the lost footage exists? Martin Landau made an intriguing comment that it was found in his commentary recorded on the DVD. Whilst I suspect that Zanuck may have trashed the footage after he edited it, and it's truly lostfor all time, some stills and the script exists, enough so that an Internet based reconstruction was possible, via this link:
http://taylortribute.com/Elizabeth%20Taylor%20-%20Restored%20Cleopatra%20Main%20Page.html
An excerpt from page four by Mr. Harris:
http://taylortribute.com/Elizabeth%20Taylor%20-%20Restored%20Cleopatra%20page%2004.html
The old crone takes the rose and slowly breaks into a toothless grin. In sudden shyness, she holds her hand to her face and turns away. The crowd roars with laughter and approval. Caesar starts up the Palace steps. Rufio, not far away, grins admiringly and says to himself, "Hail, Caesar." [How many of you have a smile on your face right now? There are several such charming scenes and touches that reveal fascinating facets and motivations to the characters in the film, most, unfortunately, left on the "cutting room floor". For the critics who bemoan "Cleopatra" to be a "ponderous" film, this is a good example why. Much of the lightness and humor was cut, diminishing the contrast between "light and dark". From this scene of a charming, even flirtatious, Caesar (light), we would have gone directly to his being presented with the head of Pompey (dark). A perfect emotional yin and yang. Cut the "yang", and we are left with only the "yin" - no balance or contrast.] Caesar continues up the Palace steps to greet King Ptolemy. The scene continues as we see it. Pothinos says, "Cleopatra has forfeited her right". Caesar says, "I shall try to decide justly."
Mr. Harris was kind enough to reply to my off topic inquiry on the My Fair Lady Thread. He wrote:
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/315932/a-few-words-about-my-fair-lady-in-blu-ray/270#post_3872482
There have been a couple of searches for the Cleo footage. We did a script, daily continuity, camera log breakdown several years ago. We know what was shot, and what is missing. AFAIK, nothing has turned up.
And there's another thread here on Cleopatra:
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/53033/would-you-buy-a-cleopatra-directors-cut
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/53033/would-you-buy-a-cleopatra-directors-cut#post_515417
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.
Can the upcoming U.K. Blu-ray play on U.S. equipment? Thanks!
 

Everett S.

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Put me down for 1! I saw this at my local theatre. My mother picked me up after school & we made a mad dash to the theatre.
 

Brian McP

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I'd just go for a perfect bluray version of the theatrical version -- besides, everyone's dead now and Mank and co aren't around to supervise what shot is in or out of any surviving footage.
The original 6 hour version certainly would have been quite a sight and he himself considered it the best work he ever did -- will anyone find the complete version of "Greed" as well as the other lost epics from Hollywood's past? Only the vaults will tell -- I hope we're all around to see them!
 
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wish they had found all scens that Fox had cut away .. the film is beautifull , director's dialogues are a real theatre play ..
 

Janhendrik

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Yes I would buy a Directors cut of Cleopatra I love this film,its so artistically beautiful and if there was more footage It would be just wonderful for me to have....
 

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I used to have this film and it is very well done except for the bad acting.......it just does not have the artistic merits of the Taylor version...
 

Mistress9

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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
You're wrong. Elizabeth Taylor had many important scenes, eliminated, off the top of my head, a final divination scene where the gods abandon her, at least three scenes featuring Caesarion, two pivotal scenes involving Antony before the battle of Actium, a scene dealing with Antony's corpse and also getting 'arrested' by Octavian's guard who have broken into her mausoleum, scenes with Apollodorus, scenes involving her other servants. As a matter of facts, the roles that got the most butchering were Antony and Cleopatra, highly ironic since the reason Zanuck opposed Mankiewicz' original two part film was that nobody would be interested in seeing part one where Antony would be seen for just a few minutes.

If the draw of the film was Burton and Taylor, then why where their characters the most cut?, Well, who is Darryl F. Zanuck anyway? A proto Harvey Weinstein whose name and work barely anyone remembers and is only ever mention for his butchery of this film, possibly the greatest film of all time in scope, and who blew half his fortune on mistresses?
 

Mistress9

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I just found out about this thread. Does anyone here know if the lost footage exists? Martin Landau made an intriguing comment that it was found in his commentary recorded on the DVD. Whilst I suspect that Zanuck may have trashed the footage after he edited it, and it's truly lostfor all time, some stills and the script exists, enough so that an Internet based reconstruction was possible, via this link:
http://taylortribute.com/Elizabeth Taylor - Restored Cleopatra Main Page.html
An excerpt from page four by Mr. Harris:
http://taylortribute.com/Elizabeth Taylor - Restored Cleopatra page 04.html
Mr. Harris was kind enough to reply to my off topic inquiry on the My Fair Lady Thread. He wrote:
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/315932/a-few-words-about-my-fair-lady-in-blu-ray/270#post_3872482
And there's another thread here on Cleopatra:
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/53033/would-you-buy-a-cleopatra-directors-cut
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/53033/would-you-buy-a-cleopatra-directors-cut#post_515417
Can the upcoming U.K. Blu-ray play on U.S. equipment? Thanks!
The head of Fox archives at the time said that the footage went to the DeLuxe labs. Have the searches been done there?
 

Mistress9

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There seems to be contradictory versions about what could have happened to the missing footage. Schawn Belson says it's gone and not on Fox, Dorothy Spencer said they were in Deluxe General Laboratories. Brad Geagley has said that an extensive search has not been done. Only a miracle would surface it.

If it ever surfaces and a director's cut is done, I would love for them to take out the old mosaic paintings in the intros and replace them with the absolutely gorgeous John De Cuir Cleopatra concept art, and also replace the boring titles with the stone age type logo found on the posters.
 

Mistress9

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One last question, if they were to find the missing footage, how would they fill it with music? or would this be already scored footage?
 

bigshot

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Usually in situations like that they pull underscore from other parts of the film and reuse it in the scenes without underscore.
 

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Hate to be repetitive however, do not know the answer to this question. Why were Stephen Boyd and Peter Finch replaced by Burton and Harrison ? I think Boyd would have been much better than Burton as Marc Antony. He must have just come off of his Academy Award nominated Ben Hur role and I assume that's why he was cast. How long was production stopped on the film while Taylor recovered was it a year ? I remember Joan Collins and Sophia Loren were choices for "Cleopatra", I could have seen both in the lead role. Especially Collins as she and Taylor bare a strong resemblance......
 

Allansfirebird

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Hate to be repetitive however, do not know the answer to this question. Why were Stephen Boyd and Peter Finch replaced by Burton and Harrison ? I think Boyd would have been much better than Burton as Marc Antony. He must have just come off of his Academy Award nominated Ben Hur role and I assume that's why he was cast. How long was production stopped on the film while Taylor recovered was it a year ? I remember Joan Collins and Sophia Loren were choices for "Cleopatra", I could have seen both in the lead role. Especially Collins as she and Taylor bare a strong resemblance......
A lot of it comes down to time.

Actual filming on the Mamoulian version of Cleopatra lasted from 9/28/60 until 11/22/60, of which Taylor never filmed a single scene, due to persistent illnesses. During this time, according to the camera reports in Mamoulian's papers at the Library of Congress, they shot ~15-20 minutes of footage, whatever they could do with the cast that available. Over those 2 months, they only shot on 22 days. That's already a lot of downtime. As they mention in the documentary, Peter Finch would just get hammered in the green room at Pinewood and just stare off into space until he was needed.

They suspended the production at the end of November, because there was nothing left that could be shot. So, they started to work on the script again, which honestly never helped. The script as devised by Lawrence Durrell & revised by Marc Brandel is shit, through and through. The cast sat around during this time, unable to do other work because they never knew when/if they'd be called in to do more of the endless camera tests that began on 12/28/60.

They were gearing back up to get production restarted in January, 1961. They drafted up revised shooting schedules and were planning how to finish filming by April. Taylor was finally in some sort of healthy shape, and started filming some camera tests. Then the arguments began between Taylor and Mamoulian about the still-awful script. In the standoff, as we know, Mamoulian lost and resigned from the production. The cast has sat idle now for 2 months, 3 if you count the downtime during the first shooting period.

Even before this, producer Walter Wanger had been in contact with Mankiewicz to get his input on the script in December, 1960. In his 9-page critique of the script, JLM outlines a lot of what he would eventually do in his final shooting script. So, by early February, Mank is on the production and is creating a new outline for the script.

During pre-production, JLM is viewing the completed footage and tests and put out a memo on his thoughts regarding each actor. His notes on Finch, Boyd, Harry Andrews (Apollodorus), Elizabeth Welch (Charmian), and Willoughby Goddard (Pothinos) are confined to costume, so my impression is he wanted to keep them on. Everyone else he says either "No" or "No comment." At this point, production is scheduled to start some time in summer, 1961. The cast would have been waiting at least 6-7 months by that time.

Then, a wrench gets thrown into the fray, Taylor gets really sick and has her tracheotomy. She's sent back to the states to recover. This pushes the start date back even further. This is when JLM loses Finch and Boyd - both are tired of sitting around and feel like the movie is never going to get back off the ground. The recasting of these roles isn't finalized until sometime during the summer, with casting for Caesar going as late as August, and filming doesn't begin again until 9/25/1961 - just shy of a full year after the first attempt began.
 
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