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Cleopatra and the Undoing of Hollywood
Cleopatra and the Undoing of Hollywood

Cleopatra and the Undoing of Hollywood

How One Film Almost Sunk the Studios


240 Pages, 6.14 x 9.21

Formats: Cloth

Cloth, $29.99 (US $29.99) (CA $39.99)

Publication Date: April 2024

ISBN 9781803990187

Rights: US & CA

The History Press (Apr 2024)

Price: $29.99


The extraordinary story of the making of Cleopatra, the film that changed the face of Hollywood

Cleopatra has its place as one of the most fabled films of all time. While others have won more Oscars, attracted better reviews and taken more money at the box office, the 1963 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton stands alone in cinema legend. What began in 1958 as a $2 million vehicle for Joan Collins eventually opened five years later, having cost more than twenty times that amount.

The making of the film soon became a cautionary tale, for the lavish extravagance of Cleopatra all but bankrupted 20th Century Fox and almost singlehandedly set in motion the decline of the major studios. Actors and filmmakers were hired and fired at a breathtaking rate, and by the time the film was finally released, Hollywood could only watch in horror as it died at the box office.

This is an epic tale of love and lust; of gossip, money, sex, movie-star madness, studio politics and the birth of paparazzi journalism. Within the saga of Cleopatra lies the end of the era of Hollywood’s studio system, the seeds of the Swinging Sixties, and the stuff of timeless movie legend.


"Film historians and Cleopatra aficionados will enjoy the book’s many juicy details..." — Library Journal 

Cinephiles will be entertained. — Publishers Weekly

Author Biography

Patrick Humphries has been a professional writer and journalist for over 40 years, with over 20 books to his credit, including Rolling Stones 69 (Omnibus, 2019). He was film editor at Vox magazine, which is when he began writing about and researching Cleopatra.