Caesar and Cleopatra (film)

Caesar and Cleopatra

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gabriel Pascal
Produced by Gabriel Pascal
Written by George Bernard Shaw
Starring Claude Rains
Vivien Leigh
Music by Georges Auric
Cinematography Jack Hildyard
Edited by Frederick Wilson
Joan Warwick
Distributed by Eagle-Lion Films (UK)
United Artists (US)
Release dates
1945 (UK)
1948 (France)
Running time
123 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $5.2 million[1] or £1.3 million[2][3]
Box office $2,250,000 (US rentals)[4]
815,007 admissions (France)[5]
$1.4 million (UK)[3]

Caesar and Cleopatra is a 1945 British Technicolor film directed by Gabriel Pascal and starring Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh.[6] It was adapted from the play Caesar and Cleopatra (1901) by George Bernard Shaw. The film was produced by Independent Producers, Pascal Film Productions, and Eagle-Lion Distributors.

Caesar and Cleopatra was a box office failure, but it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction (John Bryan).[7]


In this philosophical coming-of-age film, an aging Julius Caesar takes possession of the Egyptian capital city of Alexandria, and tries to resolve a feud between young Princess Cleopatra and her younger brother Ptolemy. During the resulting sometimes-murderous court intrigues, Caesar develops a special relationship with Cleopatra, and teaches her how to use her royal power.


Filmed in Technicolor with lavish sets, the production was reported to be the most expensive film ever made in Britain at the time, coming to £1,278,000.[8]

Pascal ordered sand from Egypt to get the right cinematic color. The production also ran into delays due to being filmed during the Second World War.[9] During the shoot, Vivien Leigh tripped and miscarried.[1]

The film was described as a "box office stinker" at the time, and almost ended Pascal's career. It was the first Shaw film made in colour, and the last film version of a Shaw play during his lifetime. After Shaw's death in 1950, Pascal went on to produce one more Shaw derived film, Androcles and the Lion (1952).



According to trade papers, the film was a "notable box office attraction" at British cinemas.[10]

The film earned US$1,363,371 in the United States, making it one of the most popular British films ever released there.[11] It did however fall short of initial expectations.[12]

Variety estimated that Rank lost $3 million on the film.[3]

See also



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