Suez (1938)

Approved  |   |  Drama, History, Romance  |  28 October 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 523 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 13 critic

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:
J. Edward Bromberg ...
Prince Said
Vicomte Rene De Latour
Henry Stephenson ...
Marquis Du Brey
Maurice Moscovitch ...
Mohammed Ali (as Maurice Moscovich)
Sig Ruman ...
Sergeant Pellerin (as Sig Rumann)
Sir Malcolm Cameron
George Zucco ...
Prime Minister
Rafaela Ottiano ...
Maria De Teba
Victor Varconi ...


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 Though the production values make the film entertaining its historical content is generally agreed to be awful.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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Drama | History | Romance


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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 »


Toni Pellerin: Look! A rainbow! Oh, Grandfather says there's a pot of gold at the end.
Ferdinand de Lesseps: One end in the Mediterranean and the other in the Red Sea. What a pot of gold for the world if they could be joined: the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Look, Toni! That water in the old gulf. Just as it was centuries ago, when the Phoenicians sailed through. Can you imagine ships sailing right through here where we're standing?
Toni Pellerin: Ships?
Ferdinand de Lesseps: Yes. Not ancient galleys but modern ships, steamers, sailing a short trade route to the ...
See more »


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


God Save the King!
(1744) (uncredited)
Music by Henry Carey (unconfirmed)
In the score when de Lesseps receives his award
See more »

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User Reviews

His Destiny Was To Dig A Big Ditch
20 December 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Probably one of the least accurate historical dramas done by the old Hollywood Studio System is Suez with Tyrone Power cast as Ferdinand DeLesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal. Any resemblance to the facts involving the canal and its construction are purely coincidental, in fact both English and French history gets badly skewered in Suez.

Ferdinand DeLesseps should only have been as dashing and as handsome as Tyrone Power, he probably wishes he was. He was never involved in any romantic way with the Empress Eugene of France played by Loretta Young. As for the character that Annabella who was Mrs. Tyrone Power at the time plays, we've sure got no basis in fact for what she does to save Power and the canal itself. Take my word it's quite the sacrifice.

The film has DeLesseps taking over the assignment his father had as consul general for France to Egypt. While there DeLesseps conceives the idea of rebuilding the ancient canal over the isthmus of Suez. And as the film's story unfolds he sacrifices everything to get it. Of course it's all fiction.

The name of Benjamin Disraeli is as linked in history to the Suez Canal as DeLesseps. But how he got involved is also complete fiction. It took place after the canal was complete and while quite a coup for the British at the time, it was hardly anything heroic. Miles Mander plays Disraeli without quite the same flair as George Arliss did nor even Ian McShane in the acclaimed BBC series in the Seventies.

But if you like historical romance than Suez is definitely the film for you.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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