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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 the tomb of a self-absorbed Pharaoh, obsessed with the security of his next life.


Howard Hawks




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


In ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh Khufu (Jack Hawkins) 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 (James Robertson Justice), 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, Cyprian Princess Nellifer (Dame Joan Collins) 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


The barbarous love that left Egypt's great pyramid as its wondrous landmark! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


For scenes showing the pyramid under construction, the film crew cleared the sand away from a ninety-foot deep shaft that was part of the unfinished pyramid of Baka. Elsewhere, they built a ramp and foundation the size of the original pyramid, where thousands of extras were filmed pulling huge stone blocks. See more »


In the opening scene the pharaoh is described as a descendant of the sun god Amon / Amun. But during the Old Kingdom the the sun god was Ra. Amun only rose to prominence, and merged with Ra, as Amun-Ra, during the Middle Kingdom, some thousand years later. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) See more »

User Reviews

"Who ever heard of a slave having a slave?"
17 April 2015 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

Undoubtedly, "Land of the Pharaohs" is likely overlooked when film buffs consider what constitutes Howard Hawks's best work. It's rather giggle inducing when one thinks about the utter miscasting of most of the actors, and the utter silliness of so many lines. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad film. On the contrary, it's actually exquisitely made, on an obviously very impressive budget. Hawks and company work with literally thousands of extras in some scenes, and the production design and CinemaScope photography are among the best one will see for this genre.

Jack Hawkins plays an Egyptian pharaoh named Khufu, who wants to be extremely prepared for his "second" life. He desires the perfect pyramid to be built to house his body and his plethora of treasures obtained from war. He learns that one of his current prisoners, Vashtar (James Robertson Justice), is an experienced architect, and indeed Vashtar comes up with some ingenious ideas for crafting an impregnable fortress. Meanwhile, Khufu obtains himself wife # 2, a young princess named Nellifer (Joan Collins). And she's a greedy and conniving person who stops at nothing to get what she wants.

"Land of the Pharaohs" may be a challenge for some people to take seriously, but technically it really is well made, and it's consistently entertaining. Also in the cast are Dewey Martin as Vashtars' son Senta, Alexis Minotis as Khufu's loyal high priest Hamar, Sydney Chaplin as the traitorous Treneh, and James Hayter as Vashtars' friend Mikka. These people all do the very best that they can, but it's the ravishing young Collins who tends to steal the show - and whom the audience is likely to remember the most.

Among the heaviest assets that this can boast are Dimitri Tiomkins' rousing music score, the cinematography by Lee Garmes & Russell Harlan, the art direction by Alexandre Trauner. and the various costumes (especially those worn by Collins). Viewers may also get a big kick out of the fairly grim twist ending.

Seven out of 10.

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Release Date:

24 June 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Howard Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs See more »


Box Office


$2,900,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Continental Company See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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


Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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