To escape the edict of Egypt's Pharaoh Rameses I (Ian Keith), condemning all newborn Hebrew males, the infant Moses (Fraser C. Heston) is set adrift on the Nile in a reed basket. Saved by the pharaoh's daughter Bithiah (Nina Foch), he is adopted by her and brought up in the court of her brother, Pharaoh Sethi (Sir Cedric Hardwicke). Moses (Charlton Heston) gains Sethi's favor and the love of the throne Princess Nefretiri (Anne Baxter), as well as the hatred of Sethi's son, Rameses II (Yul Brynner). When his Hebrew heritage is revealed, Moses is cast out of Egypt, and makes his way across the desert where he marries, has a son, and is commanded by God to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery. In Egypt, Moses' fiercest enemy proves to be not Rameses II, but someone near to him who can "harden his heart".Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The original ten-minute theatrical trailer included alternate takes and shots that were cut from this movie. See more »
The Red Sea just parted, the sea floor should be mud or wet sand, yet it is completely dry. This is not a goof; it is a miracle. The book of Exodus, on which the movie is based, says multiple times that the land was dry. See more »
Don't exhaust yourself, Great One. Dear Great One.
[on his deathbed]
Why not, kitten? You are the only thing I regret leaving. You have been my joy.
And you my only love.
Aha. Now you're cheating. There was another. I know. I loved him, too. With my last breath, I'll break my own law and speak the name of... Moses.
[Sethi's last words, were spoken slowly, as he said Moses' name twice]
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This film does not end with the credit "The End," but with the written line "So it was written, so it shall be done." See more »
The print that was shown at the film's Salt Lake City preview in October 1956 ran 3 hours and 45 minutes. The reception was so successful DeMille only cut 6 minutes for the premiere print. See more »
"Moses, Take What Spoils You Will From Egypt And Go"
When I was 10 years old I saw The Ten Commandments in the the theater which is the only place it really should be seen. At the time I thought it was the greatest film ever. All that splashy color cinematogaphy and eye filling spectacle. The guy that put this together is some kind of special genius. Then I grew up.
Today in a lot of quarters this and other DeMille sound films are viewed as pretty high camp. Especially those that touch on a religious theme. It's that dialog and The Ten Commandments longer than any other of his films has more of it. People talking some of that high falutin' nonsense, together with a good mixture of sex.
What a lot of people fail to remember is that before Cecil B. DeMille came to Hollywood he was an actor and playwright on Broadway. He learned his trade at the feet of David Belasco, the premier Broadway producer/playwright of his day. In that Victorian/Edwardian era, ALL the actors, in Belasco plays especially spouted that stuff. I recall Anne Baxter saying that Moses spurned her like a strumpet. How many people do you know who use the word strumpet in their every day conversation? Or Yvonne DeCarlo saying to Charlton Heston that he Moses is God's torch to light the way to freedom and that by the way she loves him?
DeMille made one great casting decision in getting the only actor who could play Moses and make it believable. This indeed was Charlton Heston's career role and as he said in his autobiography if you can't make a career out of the lead in two DeMille pictures it ain't happening.
One other member of the cast Edward G. Robinson as Dathan loved this picture. Robinson had been dropping in star status since the late Forties and was now doing mostly B films. DeMille, whose rightwing politics Robinson despised, gave him this part and Robinson's career got a big shot in the arm. Robinson was grateful and gave him full credit in his unfinished memoirs. Most of the last half of The Ten Commandments is a running verbal battle between Heston and Robinson who is trying to keep some kind of control. Robinson is almost like the leader of a company union with the Hebrew slaves as members and Robinson sure enjoys the perks of office.
The first half of the film is the sex part, hovering over all the biblical jargon. DeMille used an old gambit of his, two men in a rivalry over a woman. It worked in previous films like Northwest Mounted Police, Reap the Wild Wind, Unconquered and now here. Anne Baxter is a royal princess promised to the next Pharoah designate. But who will Sir Cedric Hardwicke designate. Charlton Heston his nephew or Yul Brynner his son? Anne Baxter has Nefretiri has both these guys hormones in overdrive. She favors Moses, but then Moses gets a higher calling.
Though he was no director of actors and his sense of drama was generations old, DeMille was a firm believer in two things, fill the screen and make the films move. 50 years later the parting of the Red Sea will still make one gasp. It's not just publicity hype when The Ten Commandments is advertised with a cast of thousands, that is thousands you're seeing on that screen.
Elmer Bernstein wrote the musical score for The Ten Commandments one of his first. He credited DeMille with teaching him how to write musical scores for film that underscore movement. This score brought him his first real notice as a film composer and he certainly became one of the best.
Given the computer technology available today, one can only imagine what Cecil B. DeMille could create today. Of course he'd insist on some of the same writing, but then again without it, it wouldn't be a DeMille picture.
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