Alexandria - Pinewood Studios Ghost Town

For the lavish multimillion-dollar production of 'Cleopatra' Pinewood Studios in London 
built a gigantic replica of Alexandria, right down to the last sphinx.
On several acres of british farmland on the backlot of Pinewood Art Director John DeCuir designed 
the visually impressive Set of the Egyptian City. 
A daring adventure and an ill-fated project from the start. London could never double for Rom or Egypt.
The Cleopatra production at Pinewood suffered from inadequate planning and the typical damp and chilly weather 
during fall and winter around London.
The health of Liz Taylor suffers in the british climate. Extras disappear in the heavy fog on the set.
The Film Sets at Pinewood Studios swiftly began showing the ruinous effects of their exposure to a British winter.
Every drop of rain meant trouble! 
Millions of dollars have been wasted and at the end Fox shuts down the production at Pinewood.
Actors like Peter Finch and Stephen Boyd quit.
They left behind a bizarre movie set and dried out palm trees in a ghost town of tremendous size and scope.
Alexandria on the Pinewood backlot, what a Fiasco! 
On a paper boat in the Thames. 

The Pergamon construction site - Pinewood Studios.
Due to poor planning there was a lack of skilled craftsmen. The immediate consequences were delays and higher costs.

The finished Pergamon Set. On both sides a magnificent bas-relief and in the middle, Cleopatra's Needle.
The hollow needle had to be secured with ropes against wind gusts. One can almost see how the color is peeling off.
Each fog and every little rain caused delays and damage to the set.
These large palm trees were imported from California. 
But they did not like the chilly British climate and began to wither quickly.
Despite high costs, they were replaced more than once. Fresh palm fronds are flown in from Egypt.
Pharaoh's Arches.
The big construction site of Alexandria devours vast amounts of building materials.
20.000 cubic feet of timber, seven tons of nails and 300 gallons of paint.
The Arches have fine details, which is costly and takes time.
Alexandria - Pinewood Studios, 1960.
A view over the dried-up port to the palace of Cleopatra.
Alexandria was not designed as a completely three-dimensional Set like the Roman Forum Set production 
designer John Moore and Veniero Colasanti built for the large-scale Samuel Bronston epic 'The Fall of the Roman Empire'.
Some parts of the John DeCuir Pinewood Set were just high-quality facades. 
The few minutes that were filmed here, show the port and the entrance areas of the palaces.
No building can be seen from behind.
Incredible amounts of scaffold material were used.
Rome was not built in a day.
A sign not only for the press, a reaction of the workers to increasing pressure.
Several Papyrus boats in the foreground and in the background 2 Sphinx and the palace of Cleopatra. What a Set.
On the right side the shell of Ptolemy's Needle.
The Palace of Cleopatra surrounded by a large scaffold. Pinewood Studios, 1960.
The palace with many fine details.
Pinewood Studios did not have enough framework, they had to hire material.
Just the iron scaffolding supporting Cleopatra's Palace was costing $2000 per week.
The impressive white marble palace in the English winter - A daily battle for the touchup crew.
Four large Sphinxes were built, each 65 feet wide and 52 feet high.
The splendid Sphinxes. All major buildings of the Alexandria Set rested on railroad ties.
Final touches for a staircase - Palace of Cleopatra, Pinewood, 1960.
All work is progressing ...under high pressure!
Dark clouds in the sky, lunch break!
The harbor basin fills with rainwater. On the left side you can see stages of the Pinewood Studios.
Market Place - Pergamon - Pharaoh's Arches
Workers build a small bridge across the pool...
In the harbor of Alexandria - Pinewood, 1960.
The retaining wall of the huge pool, apparently not 100% leak-proof.
The construction crew built a detailed bow of a big barge in the harbor.
Not a complete barge, just the bow and a few feet of the deck.
A set with many levels and facets.
A touch of Egypt in London. Alexandria, Pinewood Studios, 1960.
What you do not see in the photo, the whole set stands on an iron scaffolding.
Everything was elevated on platforms which makes the sets difficult to light and photograph for 
DOP Leon Shamroy.
On the iron scaffolding is a layer of solid old railroad ties (platform).  In the middle you can see a few components of pillars.
More than 15,000 railroad ties were needed for Alexandria, a city on stilts.
A half Barge in the harbor...
Just a few minutes were filmed in Alexandria, mainly with Extras.
A few scenes with Peter Finch (Caesar) and Keith Baxter (Octavianus).
None of these scenes survived the shut down in Pinewood. Everything was reshot later in Rome!
There is the Barge again, now in all its beauty, with a little help of the Pinewood Matte Department.
The ships left of the palm tree are a matte painting.
The palm tree is the dividing line. Differences in color are clearly visible.
The predominant portion of this frame is a matte painting. The upper 4/5 of the image left of the palm tree.
Against the light - The Ram Bow of the Barge.
Assorted props wait for their place.
The pool was flooded.
One of the rare scenes filmed in the Pinewood Set.  The Arrival of Octavianus (Keith Baxter) in Alexandria. 
Keith was no longer available when they restart the production in Rome.  Everything was reshot with a new Octavianus, Roddy McDowall.
A magnificent Set for the most troubled production ever.
A lavish, luxerious Set. 
Built to decay ... what a madness.
Pomp, glamor and style - Alexandria, Pinewood Studios, 1960.
Finishing touches for a bas-relief. Excellent artist were hired for Cleopatra
The Studio Sets for Cleopatra were of the highest quality.
A huge Studio Set for Cleopatra. A young lady is sitting on the Lion's paw.
Matte paintings and painted backdrops, many artistic talents were needed for Cleopatra.
Cleopatra was a nerve-wracking production for Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (left) and Producer Walter Wanger (right).
An amazing pompous 70mm Todd-AO production from another world that nearly bankrupted the studio.
The big procession scene when Cleopatra enters Rome is a masterpiece of beauty and vision, a lost art.
Walter Wanger wrote a book about his experiences with the large-scale production of Cleopatra. 
'My life with Cleopatra' - The Making of a Hollywood Classic. Highly recommended!