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The Ten Commandments (1923)

After hearing the story of Moses, the sons of a devout Christian mother go their own ways, while the atheist brother's breaking of the Ten Commandments leads to tragedy.

Director:

Cecil B. DeMille (as Cecil B. De Mille)

Writer:

Jeanie Macpherson (story)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Theodore Roberts ... Moses - The Lawgiver - Prologue
Charles de Rochefort ... Rameses the Magnificent - Prologue (as Charles De Roche)
Estelle Taylor ... Miriam - The Sister of Moses - Prologue
Julia Faye ... The Wife of Pharaoh - Prologue
Pat Moore ... The Son of Pharaoh - Prologue (as Terrence Moore)
James Neill ... Aaron - Brother of Moses - Prologue
Lawson Butt ... Dathan - The Discontented - Prologue
Clarence Burton ... The Taskmaster - Prologue / Detective - Modern Story
Noble Johnson ... The Bronze Man - Prologue
Edythe Chapman ... Mrs. Martha McTavish
Richard Dix ... John McTavish - Her Son
Rod La Rocque ... Dan McTavish - Her Son
Leatrice Joy ... Mary Leigh
Nita Naldi ... Sally Lung - a Eurasian
Robert Edeson ... 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. See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Dan is not intended to be a modern-day Pharaoh, the film draws comparisons between the two rich and deluded men. One subtle motif is used in the art direction: The curved V design at the bottom of the columns in Pharaoh's throne room is repeated in the V shapes used to make an X on the column of the balcony in Dan's home. See more »

Goofs

While lying in the wrecked cathedral, dying, Mother McTavish moves her head, and her hair does not move with it as it should. She is clearly wearing a wig. See more »

Quotes

Sally Lung - a Eurasian: [mortally wounded by Danny's gunshot] Danny, dear - I'll tell the Devil, you won't be far behind!
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Connections

Referenced in The Passion: Films, Faith & Fury (2006) See more »

User Reviews

Interesting, & Occasionally Impressive
21 September 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

It's interesting just to watch DeMille's first, silent film version of "The Ten Commandments", and the picture itself is pretty interesting too. It is also occasionally impressive, sometimes with the kind of DeMille flourishes that one expects, sometimes with a satisfying dramatic turn. It's quite different in its conception from the more familiar 1950's version, and so direct comparisons are not always possible, yet it holds up well by itself anyway.

Rather than concentrating on the biblical story, as in the remake, here DeMille first tells an abbreviated version of the Moses/Exodus narrative, and then uses it as the thematic basis for a modern morality tale. There are many parallels between the two stories, and while the parallels are occasionally forced, they often work surprisingly well. The modern-day story is similar to many other films of the 1910's and 1920's, but it is interesting and it is told well.

Although DeMille is known for his lavish spectacles, he also knew how to create some more subtle effects when he wanted to. In the modern story, some of the developments are a bit contrived, but the characters generally ring true, and the story itself is worthwhile as well. While the lavish remake with color and sound is probably going to remain more well-known, this earlier version is well worth seeing, too.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 November 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ten Commandments See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Black and White | Color (2-strip Technicolor) (some sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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