Timeline: the late 1950’s in Hollywood still presented itself as the dream factory that churned out cinematic gold for the audiences in the dark. An overall number of major film studios were still flourishing from the lucrative returns that their films were bringing back home, however, that wasn’t the case for one studio: 20th Century Fox. Fox had been suffering from a string of costly productions and mediocre returns at the box office. This was bringing the studio’s finances down to an all- time low and made the top brass begin to question what or who was at fault for these appalling and fearful numbers. After the public availability of in- home entertainment, thanks to the introduction of the television set, America had become fixated with the little glowing box and soon became a major clinch in the lack of ticket sales at the box office, losing almost 40% of its previous patrons to TV. In the early years, film studios were actually in odds with television heads and were in constant bickering of dollars and bragging rights over the entertainment of the public. This form of action caused many film moguls to seriously consider their cinematic futures in deed.
|Darryl F Zanuck|
|Joan Collins' screen test|
One can only imagine the buzz that went through Hollywood as Fox auditioned for the role of the lifetime for any actress! Female lead roles then, as they are now, were scarce and brought out anyone who felt they could audition and take on the task. The studio originally went with its list of contracted actresses that included Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Susan Hayward and Brigitte Bardot. Ideally,
|Taylor signs CLEOPATRA contract|
|Peter Finch as Caesar|
Aside from finally getting the studio to agree to the first- ever one million dollar salary, Taylor would begin requesting script changes as well. Skouras and Wanger, however, had bigger fish to fry… and fast. Skouras was quickly realizing that the original concept of a modest $2 million production was not going to happen. The budget had now ballooned into a hefty $5 million. Now that their actress of choice had been secured, the search for casting Caesar and Antony would become the new line of business. Marlon Brando was considered for the role of Antony, but had been obligated to film MUTANY ON THE BOUNTY. Actors Peter Finch and Peter O’Toole were also considered for the role.
|Stephen Boyd as Antony|
|Director Rouben Mamoulian|
|Art Director John DeCuir|
The final set included four 52- foot- high statues which covered 20 acres with a staggering cost of over $600 thousand. The project not only requested the use of every carpenter, painter and builder available… it also put a huge dent in supply and building products throughout the entire country.
|Visible tracheotomy scar|
|Directing Taylor (l) Joseph Mankiewicz (r)|
|Burton (l) and Harrison (r)|
|The Alexandria set as it appeared at Pinewood Studios|
|Cleopatra arrival into Rome|
|The full- sized barge|
|Cleopatra's "gold" costume|
|JER standing in front of Darryl Zanuck's house in Palm Springs|