CLEOPATRA (1934)
1934, Paramount (Universal), 100 min, USA, Dir: Cecil B. DeMille

Mogul and architect of epics Cecil B. DeMille weaves a historical tapestry poised somewhere between high camp and outlandish spectacle, directing the scintillating Claudette Colbert in her youthful prime as the wily Egyptian queen. A naughty pre-Code product, the film boasts an array of scandalous costumes. With Warren William as Julius Caesar and Henry Wilcoxon as Marc Antony.


MADAM SATAN
1930, Warner Bros., 116 min, USA, Dir: Cecil B. DeMille

This delightfully bizarre mélange of song, dance, bedroom farce and airship disaster - director Cecil B. DeMille’s only movie musical - must be seen to be believed. Angela Brooks (Kay Johnson) endures the infidelity of husband Bob (Reginald Denny) until a masquerade ball offers her the opportunity to win back her straying spouse and put the man’s mistress (Lillian Roth) in her place. A pre-Code gem whose sets, production numbers and costumes (by designer Adrian) will leave you slack-jawed!


THE TEN COMMANDMENTS 1923
1923, Paramount, 136 min, USA, Dir: Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille produced and directed this epic silent film, told in two parts, starring Estelle Taylor, Theodore Roberts, Charles de Roche, Richard Dix and Leatrice Joy. The first part (shot in two-color Technicolor) tells the biblical tale, adapted from the Book of Exodus, of the prophet Moses leading the Children of Israel from bondage under the Egyptian Pharaohs into the Promised Land. Things go awry, however, when Moses goes to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God and the Israelites renounce their faith to worship the Golden Calf. The second part (shot in black-and-white) reflects the efficacy of the Ten Commandments in people’s everyday lives through a modern-day parable involving two brothers - one a saint, the other a sinner - in love with the same girl. Architecture and the evils of shoddy construction practices figure in as well as some jaunty 1920s dialog and fashions. Remade by DeMille in 1956 with Charlton Heston as Moses.


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