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

Director:

Howard Hawks
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Cast

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
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Storyline

In ancient Egypt the Pharaoh Khu-fu 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, 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 a Cyprian princess 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

Taglines:

HER BLOOD STAINED EVERY STONE OF THE PYRAMID See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 June 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Howard Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,900,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Continental Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Although the Egyptians did practice ritual sacrifice in the manner shown at the end of the film (in which Nellifer joins her husband's guards in his tomb so she can be with him in the afterlife), they had stopped this practice long before the building of the Great Pyramid. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Edited into The Story of Mankind (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

 
generally compelling
9 July 1999 | by lawgiverSee all my reviews

Land of the Pharaohs is a fascinating, sometimes morbid glimpse into the Hollywoodized past. Unlike many epics, the film forsakes the usual Judeo-Christian perspective in favor of a completely pagan outlook. That, combined with some striking scenes involving the building of Khufu's pyramid, makes this worthwhile entertainment.

Over the years, many have criticized the film, including Howard Hawks, Hawkins and Collins. On close examination, their criticism of the dialogue is only partially justified. While there is some verbosity, and the discourse between Khufu and his first wife over his desire for a son seems unnecessary if not ridiculous(in this instance actions would speak louder than words)the dialogue is more than serviceable. During the funeral ritual for the heroic dead, the grand, evocative speech is even inspired.

Hawks also lamented that the film contained "no one to root for." Indeed, Hawkins' Pharaoh is decisive, infrequently warm and unquenchably greedy. As Princess Nellifer, Joan Collins is even more unsavory. There exists however, a necessary counterpoint in the character of Vashtar, who designs the pyramid in order to free his people. James Robertson Justice gives a sympathetic performance as the designer who is alternately good natured, thoughtful, and indignant at the pharaoh's cruelty. As the pharaohs advisor, Alexis Minotis manages a remarkable acting feat by enforcing Khufu's will and simultaneously evoking audience sympathy. As Vashtar's son, Dewey Martin's All-American boy persona is the only off key note.

Despite the generally capable acting, the film's chief attraction is the abundant spectacle. The thousands of workers toiling to build the pyramid, and the colorful court pageantry, are what linger most in the viewer's mind. The much-discussed ending may or may not be historically accurate, but is nevertheless filmed with a chilling sense of realism. In short, Land of the Pharaohs is an interesting thematic departure from the epics of the 1950s.


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