Ferdinand de Lesseps, disappointed in love, is sent as a junior diplomat to the Isthmus of Suez, and realizes it's just the place for a canal.



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Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Prince Said
Vicomte Rene De Latour
Marquis Du Brey
Maurice Moscovitch ...
Mohammed Ali (as Maurice Moscovich)
Sergeant Pellerin (as Sig Rumann)
Sir Malcolm Cameron
Prime Minister
Maria De Teba


De Lesseps is a young aristocrat who conceives the idea for the Suez Canal. When Napoleon fails him, the British show interest. Though the production values make the film entertaining its historical content is generally agreed to be awful. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The stirring saga of the world's most astonishing engineering achievement! See more »


Drama | History | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

28 October 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Suezu  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(FMC Library Print) | (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In an interview in the late 1970s, director Allan Dwan talked of the censorship battle he had with the Hays Office over the wet-shirt scene, in which Annabella's erect nipples are on prominent display. "I wanted them to show," he said. His argument with the Hays Office was, "Have you ever seen a nude woman? Ever seen your wife nude? There was nothing there that wasn't positively true to life ... you knew she was going to be sexy ... that's why you picked her. The audience knows. This is my idea of giving it to them. All women are alike - they can go to the mirror and see that anytime." The matter was dropped as re-shooting the scene would have cost too much as the studio would have had to rebuild the entire set. Dwan said that his nemesis, studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, was pleased with the picture. See more »


Benjamin Disraeli: [to the House of Commons] By all means support this policy; by all means rally round the Prime Minister; by all means follow cheerfully and unquestioningly his leadership. All of you... who are as anxious as he to see England reduced to the standing of a third-rate power!
See more »


Referenced in The James Dean Story (1957) See more »


La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Music by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
In the score often and extensively during the riot scenes
See more »

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User Reviews

Just magnificent on every level. Unsurpassable
7 March 1999 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

There could never be a product like this turned out today. The people are just not out there - at least not in the picture business.

Zanuck expressed the opinion that Annabella was the only one of Power's wives good enough for Power. Zanuck was never one to always hit it exactly right on the head but he got it right with this one. Watch these two in this - it's a union of giants!

Loretta Young !!!! Just plainly the most beautiful woman who ever lived. If Eugenie was one tenth this beautiful she deserved to wear a crown and live a hundred years, as the fortune teller predicted, and as Eugenie in fact did. Even Power's co-stars Madeleine Carroll in LLOYDS OF LONDON and Gene Tierney/Frances Farmer in SON OF FURY, ravishing as they all were, were not Young's equal.

Victoria was badmouthed as too prim and proper but according to Zanuck she must have walked out on a few wires or otherwise there would have been some holdups on both the Suez Canal and the telephone (see ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL).

There are so many elements in this that represent the very pinnacle of moviemaking that it would be gilding the lily to begin to enumerate them. We can but savor this thankfully as a flawless treasure; an example of the American commercial movie as an art form in the consummate sense.

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