(Don’t) Watch: Cleopatra (1917)
Cleopatra, starring the sexy and mysterious Theda Bara, was released on October 14, 1917. It was the most popular movie of 1917 by a landslide. The public was intrigued and infatuated with The Vamp. The studio worked overtime to promote her mystical image.
So let’s watch Cleopatra now, right? Wrong. It’s lost, gone – it’s dead, Jim. First Cleopatra got slapped with an obscene label post Hays Code, and the last two prints were lost in fires at the Fox studios and at the Museum of Modern Art. What’s left are a few fragments in various private libraries and a slew of still images, which I believe are mostly publicity stills and not production stills.
Theda Bara’s fame was fleeting. She was more a fad than a star. I expound on this at some length in my review of A Fool There Was, but the point here is that the Cleopatra that lives on in legend might actually be far better than the lost one silent film fans pine for. Of course, that’s pure speculation and we’ll never know. Enjoy these saucy photos of Theda and this surviving fragment.