Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Archival Footage: Two Nights With Cleopatra (1953)

In Two Nights With Cleopatra (Due notti con Cleopatra), the ever timeless and stunning Sophia Loren goes up against herself, playing both Cleopatra and a blonde servant girl that the infamous Queen hires as a doppelganger. Comedy ensues, or is supposed to ensue, especially aided by the horrible dubbing and dialog characteristic of Italian dubs at this time. Alberto Sordi, as Cleopatra's self imposed guard, should be the real comedic element here, but is nearly unbearable to watch as he runs around the set acting so ridiculous only a mother could love him.

All and all, it's a terrible movie...if you take it seriously (which includes assuming it's a comedy). But if you sort of go with it, you start to appreciate not only Loren's beauty, but the beauty and majesty of the sets and art production which rival, and possibly surpass the best of Cecil B. DeMille. I found myself imagining watching this movie in a smokey, packed theater in the year of its release and it felt even better. With a little imagination and perhaps a good use of the mute button, there might be something for you in this comedic epic, one that would benefit more from the label "bargain bin spaghetti western" than comedy. Dare I say it, it even becomes a bit charming if you can stick it out.

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