Il sepolcro dei re (Cleopatra's Daughter) (1960)
Director: Fernando Cerchio.
Starring: Debra Paget (Shila - Cleopatra's Daughter), Ettore Manni (Resi - Pharaoh's Physician), Erno Crisa (Kefren - Tegi's Councellor), Corrado Pani (Pharaoh Nemorat / Keops), Yvette Lebon (Queen-Mother Tegi), Andreina Rossi (Kefren's Mistress), Pietro Ceccarelli (Sutek).
The title is misleading to say the least. This is not the "Cleopatra" who had a child with Julius Caesar and twins from Marc Antony.
On 25 December 40 BC, Cleopatra gave birth to fraternal twins who were fathered by Marc Antony, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II.
The "Cleopatra" was the very last person to rule Ancient Egypt as an Egyptian pharaoh. She ruled from 69-30 BC. After her, Egypt was ruled by the Roman Emperors.
There was no pharaoh that followed Cleopatra and no youthful pharaoh known as Nemorat as in the film.
Nor did Cleopatra have a daughter named Shila who became Queen of Egypt.
The film itself is okay. The problem is that nothing about it is true historically speaking. Cleopatra has a daughter by Marc Antony named Shila who is brought up by Assyrians. The mother of Pharaoh Nemorat, named Tegi, forces Shila to marry her son to become queen of Egypt. The son doesn't want to marry, but Tegi forces him to obey her. Shila falls in love with the Pharaoh's court physician Resi. She shows no affection toward her husband and he becomes extremely angry at her and knocks her around. At this time Kefren, Tegi's counselor, and his mistress poison the Pharaoh, who dies. Tegi puts the blame on Shila and she is sentenced to be buried with her husband. The real murderer Kefren is named Pharaoh.
Very much in love with Shila, Resi plans to fool the court and run away with Shila, who will be thought to be buried with her husband. When they come for Shila to parade her chained to her sarcophagus before the people, Shila, following Resi's plan, takes a drug that she says is poison. But the drug actually just puts her into a temporary coma. Resi pretends to try to save Shila from the poison, but he says it's the same poison that killed the Pharaoh for which there is no antidote. Everyone thinks that Shila is dead.
Risa has bribed the head of the House of Death where dead bodies are wrapped up as mummies or are just thrown into a vat of acid. The fellow tries to double cross Risa and Risa is forced to fight the bigger man. Risa uses his head to outsmart the head of the House of Death and he is able to stab the fellow to death. But Risa is not able to rescue Shila from her sarcophagus. Her sarcophagus accompanies that of her husband's and Shila ends up being buried alive in the new pyramid recently constructed.
Resi is determined to save his sweetheart. He contacts some professional grave robbers who have stolen from pyramids before. The robbers kidnap the architect of the pyramid in order that he might show them exactly where the key passages are that lead to the inner tomb of the pharaoh. The architect refuses to give them any information, so he is beaten with a whip. He still doesn't talk. So Resia and the robbers just take the architect with them. With the application of more whippings, the architect finally agrees to show them the way (but not until after one of the robbers is killed by stepping on the wrong slab in the passageways).
Meanwhile, Shila has awakened from her coma. She screams from fright of having been buried alive. But she is able to get out of her sarcophagus. She thinks about killing herself, but rejects the idea. She searches for a way out without any luck.
It takes awhile, but the grave robbers finally reach the inner tomb. Resi is reunited with his love Shila. Shila faints. The architect tells Risa to get Shila outside as fast as possible. She just needs some fresh air and will revive as soon as she is outside. The architect also tells Resi to extinguish the candles that were lit and left at intervals as the grave robbers moved forward through the passageways. Resi does what the architect told him to do. He reaches the outside and Shila revives. Then with the help of Resi's aide all three get on two horses and start riding out of Egypt.
The architect says to the grave robbers that the really expensive jewels are buried in the sarcophagus of the Pharaoh. He has the robbers help him move the top of the sarcophagus off. But this is a trap as moving the top of the sarcophagus starts a chain reaction that ends in the roof of the tomb falling in on everyone trapped in the tomb. They all perish.
An official of the Pharaoh's staff had placed a spy in the ranks of the grave robbers and now the spy reports to the official about the grave robbery. The official and some soldiers ride out to the pyramid, but it's already too late for them to do anything.
The official goes to see the new Pharaoh to tell him what happened. The Pharaoh is furious with the official and he gives the signal and a group of archers marches into the room. The official begs for his life but the new Pharaoh wants the man executed immediately. The archers pull back the strings of their bows and let the arrows fly. Much to the Pharaoh's surprise, he is hit with four arrows. The official is also killed. Tegi now comes out satisfied that she got some revenge on the man who killed her son.
Resi, Shila and their aide reach freedom as they pass out of the Sinai desert.
The viewing quality of the film is not very good. I did enjoy seeing Debra Paget as Shila. I had never fully watched a film with her in it. She is a lovely presence in the film and a good actress for a B movie. It was interesting watching how the architect set up the pyramid's passageways and the booby traps for the grave robbers.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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