‘Love Is a Crime’ Podcast: The Upward thrust and Fall of Walter Wanger’s ‘Cleopatra’

Walter Wanger emerged from his four-month reformatory stint with a watch towards reinvention. Desperate to capitalize on his macho new character and highlight problems surrounding incarceration, the manufacturer remounted his once-catatonic movie profession in a decade of comeback tasks that culminated in what Love Is a Crime cohost Karina Longworth calls “probably the most impressive, most costly, maximum talked-about movie of the early Nineteen Sixties: the Elizabeth Taylor–starring Cleopatra.” She and cohost Vanessa Hope—Wanger’s granddaughter—discover that manufacturing on this week’s episode of Love Is a Crime.

Wanger would produce 4 primary movies in his post-prison years: Revolt in Mobile Block 11, Invasion of the Frame Snatchers, I Need to Are living!, and Cleopatra, the general film he made ahead of his demise in 1968. He endured to climate non-public setbacks at the back of the scenes, together with a in large part loveless ultimate stretch in his marriage to Joan Bennett and a center assault, and then Wanger used to be warned in opposition to running once more.

Evading physician’s orders, Wanger would go back to his femme fatale roots for the story of an Egyptian named Cleopatra. However regardless of securing Elizabeth Taylor for the titular function and getting the greenlight at twentieth Century Fox, Cleopatra proved “calamitous from the beginning,” says Longworth. The epic used to be rushed into manufacturing, then took 5 pricey years to finish. Taylor gotten smaller pneumonia, requiring a long restoration duration. Director Rouben Mammoulian used to be changed by way of Wanger’s spouse Joseph Mankiewicz. And unique Mark Antony Stephen Boyd used to be recast with a Tony-winning Welsh actor named Richard Burton. 

By way of now, Cleopatra is sort of synonymous with the scandal involving Taylor and Burton, who had been each married to other folks once they costarred and fell in love. As defined by way of Longworth, “Elizabeth Taylor’s affair with Richard Burton at the set of a film about world-beating, bad-idea love would spark a global public dialog about infidelity that exposed how a lot had modified in only a decade since Walter’s personal marriage and Joan’s affair had made front-page information.”

Elizabeth Taylor, within the name function, and Richard Burton as Marc Antony in ‘Cleopatra’, directed by way of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963.Silver Display Assortment

As famous in Love Is a Crime, when it got here time for Fox to handle Cleopatra’s ballooning finances, the studio forged Wanger as their fall guy. He used to be launched from his contract, stripped of his expense account, and no longer invited to the movie’s premiere. Wanger would flip his betrayal right into a boundary-breaking tell-all referred to as My Lifestyles With Cleopatra, written with journalist Joe Hyams. It presented Wanger a buzzy platform for his Hollywood swan music and audiences much more incentive to peer Cleopatra. 

The movie would move directly to be 1963’s absolute best grossing film, even though Cleopatra’s take used to be nonetheless not up to its ultimate finances. Wanger relocated to New York, the place he would fall in love with gossip columnist Aileen Mehle, a lady 24 years his junior. This era used to be one among revaluation for Wanger, as he mirrored on his historical past of exploiting more youthful ladies for the sake of an business he had left at the back of.

Pay attention to the episode above, and be sure you concentrate subsequent Tuesday, October 12, for Joan’s post-scandal bankruptcy in Hollywood. Subscribe at or anywhere you get your podcasts.

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