Bethel Buckalew – The Notorious Cleopatra (1970)
History is warped yet again by Box Office International, in this lavish, lewd and ludicrous epic by producer (Mantis In Lace) and occasional director (Secret Sex Lives Of Romeo & Juliet) Peter Perry. According to Perry’s version, Julius Caesar is a corpulent grump, lamenting the drab quality of orgy talent while a concubine drapes herself across his royal presence. At the mention of Cleopatra as an exotic addition to his carnal menu, he orders his cohort Mark Anthony (`Rome’s greatest lover’) to Egypt to check out the talent – with a strict hands-off policy. Cut to Mark Anthony, whose hands are anywhere but off the Nubian nuptials. After a ringside seat at a virgin sacrifice and multi-racial orgy, Anthony and co return to Rome understandably knackered; Cleo and her handmaiden (!!) follow them incognito. She has a thing for Mark Anthony herself, but ambition gets the better of her, and finds the way to a Caesar’s heart is through his stomach. Mark Anthony meanwhile becomes the patsy for Caesar’s murder, and discovers her treachery while on the run. Exit Cleo, exit Mark Anthony, and historical accuracy is flushed down the aqueduct once more for good luck.
Absolute stunner Sonora proves `Black is Beautiful’, in a rare example of an Afro-American lead in a sexploitation flick, while Mark Anthony aka Johnny Rocco (Exotic Dreams Of Casanova) manages both the cheapo one-liners and gut-wrenching melodrama without moving his teeth. But it’s Caesar (Jay Edwards, also from Casanova)who gets the best lines – `Cleopatra or not, you sure are a stacked bitch!’ – while he’s not cramming grapes into his portly gob. Definitely more than a mouthful, this tantalizing titbit.