For some reason I was under the impression that Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra was silent, but of course it’s not. How else could Claudette Colbert trade cheesy come-ons with noble Romans? Production design is sumptuous, and since this film is much shorter than Mankiewicz’s 1963 version with Liz Taylor (or Rome, for that matter), the plot zips by: the Queen of Egypt has just barely finished rolling out of the rug when a bearded Brutus decides to rid the republic of J.C., here comes the Queen’s barge, Actium, the asps! Colbert is more flapper than ancient monarch, and that’s fine by me–she may well be my favorite Cleopatra yet. Whenever she’s off-screen, the movie drags, but her seductions of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony are great camp.

Cleopatra. Cecil B. DeMille, 1934. ****