12 December 2001 | Thomas Morris
Praise upon a film in memory only
Like many of Theda Bara's film, the classic "Cleopatra" does not exist in print form. We can only remember it in stills and the written word. Theda (Born Theodosia Goodman, July 29 1885) was at the very height of her fame in mid 1917, she was as a big a star as Chaplin, Pickford or Fairbanks. Fox chose this time to star her in what would become her most successful and famous film. The film was shot during the summer of 1917, and released that October. This was to be the Cleopatra to end all Cleopatra's, which meant big name casting and lavish sets and costumes. The publicity for the film began in April 1917, stating that ancient prophecies predicted Theda would play Cleopatra! The film was directed by J. Gordon Edwards, and Thurston Hall played Antony. Theda was well cast as Cleoptra, they were both about the same age when the action takes places, and Theda wore the very skimpy costumes to a "T". Fox spent $50,000 on the sets, which included hundreds of rugs, tapestries and hangings. The production employed 30,000 people with actors, extras, carpenters, costumers, and crew, as well as 2,000 horses. The film opened on October 14th 1917 in Los Angeles, and it was so successful that Theda was cheered and pelted with flowers at the end of the film. Too bad we can't see this classic movie, we can only imagine how good it was. Pity.