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Land of the Pharaohs (1955)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, History | 24 June 1955 (USA)
A captured architect designs an ingenious plan to ensure the impregnability of tomb of a self-absorbed Pharaoh, obsessed with the security of his next life.

Director:

Howard Hawks
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jack Hawkins ... Pharaoh Khufu
Joan Collins ... Princess Nellifer
Dewey Martin ... Senta, Vashtar's Son
Alexis Minotis Alexis Minotis ... Hamar, the High Priest (as Alex Minotis)
James Robertson Justice ... Vashtar, the Master Architect
Luisella Boni Luisella Boni ... Kyra (as Luisa Boni)
Sydney Chaplin ... Treneh, The Captain of the Guard
James Hayter ... Mikka, Vashtar's Servant
Kerima ... Queen Nailla
Piero Giagnoni Piero Giagnoni ... Xenon
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Storyline

In ancient Egypt the Pharaoh Khu-fu is obsessed with acquiring gold and plans to take it all with him into the "second life." To this end he enlists the aid of Vashtar, an architect whose people are enslaved in Egypt. The deal: build a robbery-proof tomb and the enslaved people will be freed. During the years that the pyramid is being built a Cyprian princess becomes the pharaoh's second wife, and she plots to prevent Khufu from taking his treasure with him when he dies .. as well as helping him make the journey early. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Spectacularly Filmed in Egypt With a Cast of 11,500 By the Largest Location Camera Crew Ever Sent Abroad from Hollywood! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 June 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Howard Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,900,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Continental Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (optical prints)| 4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording) (magnetic prints)

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was Howard Hawks's first commercial failure. It caused Hawks to take a break from directing and travel through Europe for a number of years. He made his next movie, Rio Bravo (1959), four years later - the longest break between two movies in his career. See more »

Goofs

During the ceremony for the soldiers who were cowards in battle, when they are thrown into the alligator pit, the alligators are seen eating but there is not one drop of blood seen in the water. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hamar: I, Hamar, Lord High Priest of Egypt, am preparing a chronicle of the reign of Khufu, ruler of Egypt. Word has come that again he has been victorious in the war against our enemies and now Egypt has taken its place as the greatest of all nations in the world! Today, Pharaoh and his armies return.
See more »

Connections

Edited into The Story of Mankind (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

Extremely underrated.
19 May 2004 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

Because it belongs to a genre that has grown unhip ,Howard Hawks's magnificent epic ,his only movie in cinemascope ,gets incredibly low ratings."Rio Bravo" 's screenplay is not much better than "pharaohs" ,but it's fashionable to put a western on your best movies list.A sword and sandal cannot be serious (with the exceptions of "Ben Hur" and "Ten commandments" )and that's why "the Egyptian" and "land of the pharaohs " are despised and dismissed as cheesy.

Hawks's movie has one of the best ,most impressive and terrifying ending I know.These last pictures are a riveting tour de force with an editing to rival the best of Lang or Welles.The story spreads over fifteen years ,which is long for a relatively short work.Hawks was obviously more interested in his villains (Hawkins and Collins) than the heroes(the architect slave (Justice),his son and his people:both are fascinating.The pharaoh's dream of eternity is selfishness itself disguised as religion.To be buried with his riches to be able to enjoy them in his second life paradoxically seems a pagan attitude;the architect ,in direct contrast to him,is a slave who 's got nothing and he did not believe in life after life:it might make think of a Jew but neither him nor his people seem to have a religion,which is a very original move for a peplum (in Curtiz's "the Egyptian" ,the precedent year,the same went for the hero Sinouhe:these are the only examples in an epic).Hawks might have been influenced by Lang's wife's screenplay "das Indische Grabmal" ,which Lang finally took to the screen in the late fifties but which was filmed by others before him.Do not let the Faulkner reference fool you.He reportedly wrote half a page of script which can be summed up as follows:"Pharaoh pays a visit to the pyramid while the workers are sweating blood to get it done and he asks "how 's the work coming on?".

Nellifer is Joan Collins at her bitchiest: a greedy woman,who had already problems with dynasties.Unlike pharaoh,she wants to have her cake and eat it.Her acting is pure camp ,which fits the character like a glove.Her fate will make your hair stand on end.

Hawks makes a wonderful use of the cinemascope , when he displays a cast of thousands and when he directs his characters in the confined atmosphere of the pyramid.He succeeds in creating a sublime contrast between the dark subterranean of the grave and the luminous blue sky of the desert,particularly in the last sequences ,I say it again,among the very best of the fifties cinema.


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