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Recensione Cinematografica: “Toto E Cleopatra”

Italian circus queen and actress Moira Orfei (Miranda Orfei) in a scene from the film 'Toto and Cleopatra', 1963, directed by Fernando Cerchio, Italy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the first Toto movie I’ve seen. It’s a good way to get acquainted with this extremely droll buffoon, one of the most popular characters in Italian film. A parody of the contemporary Hollywood film Caesar And Cleopatra, the movie’s almost nonexistent plot revolves around the confusion between Marc Antony and his scamp, slave trader brother Totonno (both roles played by Toto), who masquerades as his more illustrious twin. A mix of low, knockabout comedy and clever repartee (much of it lost on this Americano), the film is basically a vehicle for Toto to make with the yucks, a small man with a beak nose, wit and humor flashing in his eyes and every gesture as he hams his way through this ninety minute romp. Able support is provided by Magali Noël as Cleopatra who shows up scantily clad in a phosphorescent clam shell. The radiant, gorgeous Moira Orfei (pictured above in all her ebullience) does a good comic turn as Ottavia, sister of Augustus. Carlo Delle Piane is also amusing as Cleopatra’s bratty, cowardly son, Cesarione.

Jokes fly fast and furious as Toto alternately woos and spurns Cleopatra depending upon which character she encounters, Antony or his posing brother, until the poor woman is driven to the brink of desperation. Toto And Cleopatra functions well as a parody of sword and sandal films in general with the same excellent sets and handsome costumes as in the genre, but played strictly for laughs all the way with not a real hero in the bunch. Italian cinema was a lot less averse to sexuality than American films of the time and many gags are openly suggestive, adding to the general zest and brio alla’Italiana. The film ends on a suitably ludicrous note with no one really hurt, unlike the actual miserable, historical truth.

I recommend this film to sword and sandal fans who can take a joke, admirers of Italian cinema in general, and anyone who wants to see a master comedian at work at the absolute top of his game.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057595/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

https://www.amazon.com/Toto-Cleopatra/dp/8875840482/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=toto+and+cleopatra&qid=1590385565&sr=8-2

 

 

 

 

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