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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jack Hawkins writes in his autobiography that during Pharaoh Khufu's funeral scene, he was carried across the desert in a palanquin, wrapped in heavy robes. It grew hotter and hotter and, while he waited because of delays, he saw some British property men drinking ice-cold bottles of beer, which he could not drink because he'd been instructed to stay put. See more »
When Khufu battles the bull, closeup shots show bull horns that are much larger than the actual bull's horns seen in the wide shots. The closeups used a fake bull head, whereas the wide shots were achieved with stuntmen and a real animal. See more »
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.
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The barbarous love that left Egypt's great pyramid as its wondrous landmark.
Land of the Pharaohs is directed by Howard Hawks and collectively written by Harold Jack Bloom, William Faulkner and Harry Kurnitz. It stars Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins, James Robertson Justice, Dewey Martin and Alex Minotis. Music is by Dimitri Tiomkin and cinematography by Lee Garmes and Russell Harlan.
It falls into the filmic splinter of historical epics that thrived greatly in the 50s and 60s, where a cast of thousands are costumed up to the nines, the sets sparkle and location photography smooths the eyes. Land of the Pharaohs has all these things, what it does lack is a high end action quotient, the makers choosing to craft a picture about intrigue in Pharaoh Khufu's (Hawkins) court as the great pyramid is constructed. This is not to say it's a dull picture, it maintains interest throughout, with shifty shenanigans afoot, femme fatale connivings and plenty of slaves standing proud for their cause. While the big finale is devilishly potent.
However, one has to really close off the ears at times to avoid the dreadfully wooden dialogue, and some scenes are painfully misplaced, such as the sight of a miscast 45 year old Hawkins wrestling with a bull, I kid you not. Also miscast is Collins, undeniably sexy, but never once does she convince as an Egyptian princess, and her make-up is awful. There are stars in the film, but it does in fact lack star power. The real stars are Tiomkin, Garmes and Harlan, who each bring the spectacle of the production to vivid life. It was a minor flop at the box office and Hawks pretty much disowned it, but it's not without intelligence and in spite of its flaws it's a good watch for historical epic loving adults. 6.5/10
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