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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ten Commandments (1956)

Based (with lots of additional material from other sources as well as a liberal dramatic license) on the book of Exodus from the Bible, the film follows the story of Moses from an infant (Fraser Heston) plucked from the Nile by Pharaoh's daughter (Nina Foch) to a Prince of Egypt (Charlton Heston) and the deliverer of the Hebrews out of slavery from Egypt to the Promised Land. This Cecil B. DeMille film, a remake of his 1923 silent film, is surely one of the most entertaining movies ever made. Whatever his flaws as a film maker, and there were many, he was a great storyteller and his telling here is grand kitschy movie making at its best. It's a bit ponderous at times (including DeMille's pompous narration) but the florid, overripe dialogue in addition to an inspired cast and still impressive special effects make it, well ... timeless. I don't think the movie would be the same without Heston as Moses. He often seems an actor out of his time, which may account for his success at playing historical characters for times past. When he commands the Red Sea to part, you damn well believe he could do it! The thrilling score is by Elmer Bernstein. The stellar cast includes Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, John Derek, Judith Anderson, Vincent Price, Cedric Hardwicke, Martha Scott, John Carradine, Woody Strode, Olive Deering, Eduard Franz, Douglass Dumbrille, Michael Ansara, Mike Connors and Henry Wilcoxon.

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