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The Ten Commandments (1923)

The first part tells the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, his receipt of the tablets and the worship of the golden calf. The second part shows the efficacy ... See full summary »

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(as Cecil B. De Mille)

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(story)
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The first film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic novel about a land where prehistoric creatures still roam.

Director: Harry O. Hoyt
Stars: Wallace Beery, Bessie Love, Lloyd Hughes
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Moses - The Lawgiver
... Rameses - the Magnificent: Prologue (as Charles De Roche)
... Miriam - The Sister of Moses
... The Wife of Pharaoh - Prologue
Pat Moore ... The Son of Pharaoh - Prologue (as Terrence Moore)
... Aaron - Brother of Moses
... Dathan - The Discontented
Clarence Burton ... The Taskmaster - Prologue
... The Bronze Man - Prologue
... Mrs. Martha McTavish
... John McTavish - Her Son
... Dan McTavish - Her Son
... Mary Leigh
... Sally Lung - a Eurasian
... Redding - an Inspector
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Storyline

The first part tells the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, his receipt of the tablets and the worship of the golden calf. The second part shows the efficacy of the commandments in modern life through a story set in San Francisco. Two brothers, rivals for the love of Mary, also come into conflict when John discovers Dan used shoddy materials to construct a cathedral. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Mightiest Dramatic Spectacle of All the Ages.


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 November 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die zehn Gebote  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,457,710, 31 December 1925
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (2-strip Technicolor) (some sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Julia Faye, who plays the Pharaoh's wife, also played Elisheba, Aaron's wife, in Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 remake of The Ten Commandments (1956). See more »

Goofs

The McTavish carpenter shop is always portrayed to be on the ground floor, but at the very end, when John reads the bible to Mary, the view from the window behind them clearly shows an overhead view of the city. See more »

Quotes

John McTavish - Her Son: How much cement are you really putting into that mix?
[the worker brushes him off so he gets forceful with him and asks again]
Cement mixer: One part to twelve. I was told to double the sand and reduce the cement.
See more »

Connections

Followed by The Ten Commandments (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Break The Ten Commandments And They'll Break You
16 July 2010 | by See all my reviews

Going on 90 years since it was first released, the original The Ten Commandments can still overawe you with the spectacle of both the biblical prologue and the modern story. Modern in the sense that it was set during the Jazz Age Roaring Twenties, the 1923 when Paramount released what would become that studio's biggest moneymaker up to that time.

You'll recognize the biblical prologue if you've seen the 1956 remake, it is almost a 45 minute scene for scene remake of the time that Charlton Heston and John Carradine arrive at the Egyptian court until the destruction of the Golden calf. They weren't giving Oscars back in 1923, but the parting of the Red Sea was incredible for its time and would have given Cecil B. DeMille yet another Oscar for the same event.

You won't recognize a lot of the biblical prologue cast, but they were part and parcel of a DeMille stock company that he developed during silent era and continued to a lesser degree after the coming of sound. Best known probably was Estelle Taylor who was married to Jack Dempsey at the time as Miriam, the sister of Moses.

The bulk of the film is the modern story which has the theme break the Ten Commandments and they'll break you. The stars are Richard Dix and Rod LaRocque a pair of brothers, one good and one bad, sons of a most pious mother Edythe Chapman. Dix is a good, honest, and steady carpenter by trade and LaRocque through his ruthlessness and who winds up breaking all the Commandments becomes the richest contractor in the state.

LaRocque is pretty ruthless in his private affairs, he breaks the Commandments regarding those as well. He marries Leatrice Joy who Dix likes as well, but then gets a fetching Eurasian mistress in Nita Naldi. Nita is in the slinky and sexy tradition of all DeMille's bad girls.

It all ends really bad for LaRocque as his sins catch up with him.

During the modern story DeMille hand with spectacle is a good one in the scene of the church collapse and later on during the climatic escape LaRocque is attempting to make with a speedboat on a stormy night at sea.

The influence of DeMille's educator father Henry and his friend David Belasco are strong here as they are in all DeMille work. The modern story is the kind of morality play that Belasco would produce and write for the stage for years. It's from the Victorian era, but the Roaring Twenties audience wanted something that reflected traditional values occasionally as if nervously waiting for its excesses to catch up. It's partly the reason why they could find comfort in a Congregationalist president of the USA in Calvin Coolidge.

Though the story is unbelievably dated, DeMille's cinematic techniques are hardly that. The original Ten Commandments in many ways will tell you about its creator warts and all.


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