Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Sophia Loren is in early bloom in this 1954 comedy, which was released years later (bluntly dubbed) in the U.S. to capitalize on her international success. Sophia plays two roles: Cleopatra, of course, and Cleopatra's double, a slave girl who spends a night impersonating the queen of Egypt. Mugging through this double act is Alberto Sordi, as a visiting Roman bewitched by the queen's lookalike. Rubber-faced Sordi, an enormous star in Italy for decades, looked like a cross between Sid Caesar and Gene Wilder, and his antic personality was given a long leash. One's enjoyment of this brand of Italian comedy depends on a taste for this kind of busy slapstick, a tradition upheld in Italy by Roberto Benigni. The silliness is certainly unpretentious, and at 78 minutes it really can't wear out its welcome. And the 20-year-old Loren looks like she's ready to conquer Egypt, if not the world. --Robert Horton

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