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My Life with Cleopatra: The Making of a Hollywood Classic Paperback – June 4, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Absolutely ravishing reading. . . . To read [My Life with Cleopatra] . . . was to be absorbed and delighted all over again by Mr. Wanger's ‘diary,’ with the help of reporter Joe Hyams. One is struck by Wanger's calm collected intellectual vigor, his defense of Elizabeth the star, his defense of the talented Joe Mankiewicz as the final director, and his annoyance, irritation and disapproval of the then 20th Century Fox executive division.”
—Liz Smith, The Huffington Post

“The story of the movie’s production—which is also the story of how the budget got so big—is pretty remarkable, and is told remarkably by its producer, Walter Wanger, in the 1963 book, My Life with Cleopatra. . . . I’ve written often about the crucial role played by independent producers, in classic Hollywood and today, in liberating the best directors from the heavy hand of the studio system. Wanger was a friend to directors at a time when they needed all the friends they could get.”
—Richard Brody, The New Yorker

About the Author

Walter Wanger, the producer of Cleopatra, attended Dartmouth, served as a reconnaissance pilot with the Signal Corps of the US Army in Italy in WWI, was appointed attaché to the American Peace Mission headed by President Wilson and attended the Paris Peace Conference. In the early 1920s, Wanger worked at Paramount Studios where he acquired the novel The Sheik, which was made into a successful film starring Rudolph Valentino. After a brief hiatus in England, Wanger returned to Paramount where he was general manager of production from 1924 to 1931. He was president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 1939-1941, for which he received an Honorary Academy Award in 1946. The producer of more than 60 motion pictures, including the first outdoor color film and Queen Christina, Scarlet Street, Stagecoach, Foreign Correspondent, I Want to Live and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, he worked with such directors as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, George Cukor, Victor Fleming Fritz Lang and Don Siegel; and such stars as Ingrid Bergman, the Marx Brothers, Henry Fonda, Charles Boyer, Cary Grant Claudette Colbert, Frederic March, Susan Hayward, and Greta Garbo. He married Justine Johnson, a Ziegfield Girl and later the actress Joan Bennett with whom he had two daughters. He died in 1968.

Joe Hyams was a Hollywood columnist, former movie editor of This Week magazine, and Hollywood correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. He was the author or co-author of over two dozen books, many of which are bestselling biographies of Hollywood stars. He died in 2008.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345804058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345804051
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,180,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By kaykan on February 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book had such promise but ultimately left me flat. It would have been better if marketed as a Kindle Single. There simply wasn't much 'there'. If you are really looking for a film insider novel, this really isn't it. I was left with a lot more questions than answers and I have gone on to Taylor biographies to get much better accounts of this classic film.
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It was a fast read that gave a different view to the whole Story. You won't regret the good deal.
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Considering the fact that this was THE celebrity story of the early 1960s, the book itself is pretty dull. Let's face it; no one who buys this wants to read production memos and stories about script meetings--they want to read about Taylor and Burton.
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Just wonderful - Thank You
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Interesting behind the scenes overview of the making of this iconic film and the personalities involved. But the journal style makes me feel like a lot was omitted.
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Written by the famed producer with Joe Hyams with some very interesting detail, some of it superficial but at other times offering fascinating insight of the travails of a producer, particularly on a project of this scale and notoriety. Organized as a journal and with sufficient namedropping to make it a tasty dish, Wanger isn't afraid to make vivid the demands, petulances and interactions with and among the film's principals. A little of it may have passed for slightly salacious in 1963, but the scandals associated with the film's passionate costars seem almost quaint by today's standards. An easy and fun read.
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By PHILIP on September 11, 2014
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Really Fun Read. As if You were there!! Recommended!!!
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Fascinating and so insightful about the the behind the scene a must read .Walter Wanger was a great producer much in the vein of Selznick and Zanuck or Wallis old school and a great era.
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