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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Land Of The Pharaohs (1955)

In the 26th century B.C., the pharaoh Khufu (Jack Hawkins) is consumed with building a burial tomb that will protect him and his treasure after death from invaders and looters. He commands an engineer (James Robertson Justice), one of the conquered people of the pharaoh's latest war, to design an impregnable tomb, one that will literally take many years to build. One of the most spectacular of the 1950s epics, the director Howard Hawks (BRINGING UP BABY) would seem out of his element, DeMille he's not. Working from a rather heavy handed script (William Faulkner was one of the writers), there's not much he can do with story but there's no denying that visually, it's quite impressive. Whatever one's thoughts about these biblical or ancient "epics", there's something rather thrilling about the massive credible sets populated by (literally) a cast of thousands and the authentic Egyptian locations (interiors were filmed in Rome). It's the kind of film making we'll never see again though to many, that's a good thing. There is one genuinely great feature in the film and that's Dimitri Tiomkin's awesome underscore. With Joan Collins as the pharaoh's evil second wife, Dewey Martin, Alexis Minotis, Kerima and Sydney Chaplin (yes, Charlie's son).

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