This stunning vintage oversize photo is a costume portrait of Claudette Colbert as she appeared in 1934’s “Cleopatra”. Colbert has autographed the photo in ink.
In the studio portrait, Colbert wears a revealing costume designed by Travis Banton. Banton drew inspiration from ancient Egyptian art and fashion, as well as contemporary haute couture trends. This royal gold-lame gown, adorned with intricate beading and metallic embroidery, was worn during the film’s climactic scenes.
The gown itself was part of the Debbie Reynolds collection of film costumes and memorabilia. It was ultimately sold at auction in 2011 for $40,000.
Colbert’s version of “Cleopatra” received five Academy Award nominations and ultimately won the Oscar for Best Cinematography. Directed by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille, the movie was the first of his many classics to receive a nomination for Best Picture.
Hollywood’s Pre-Code Movies
“Cleopatra” was produced on the cusp of Hollywood’s strict Motion Picture Production Code which enforced decency in films, and as such, managed to slip in some risque elements that only appeared in earlier pre-code movies.
During the pre-Code era, Hollywood filmmakers had more freedom to explore controversial topics such as sexuality, crime, and social issues without censorship. These films often featured strong female characters, provocative storylines, and explicit imagery that challenged societal norms.
“Cleopatra” exemplifies this trend with its portrayal of the legendary Egyptian queen’s seductive power and romantic escapades. Despite facing criticism from censors and moral watchdogs, pre-Code movies like “Cleopatra” pushed the boundaries of filmmaking and left an indelible mark on cinema history.
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