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Sphinx (1981)

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Egyptologist Erica Baron finds more than she bargained for during her long-planned trip to The Land of the Pharoahs: murder, theft, betrayal, love, and a mummy's curse.


(screenplay), (novel)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Erica Baron
... Akmed Khazzan
... Yvon Mageot
... Abdu-Hamdi (as Sir John Gielgud)
... Khalifa
... Muhammed
... Stephanos Markoulis
... Gamal
... Tewfik
... Selim
Eileen Way ... Aida
... Don
... Carter
... Lord Carnarvon
... Lady Carnarvon


Egyptologist Erica Baron finds more than she bargained for during her long-planned trip to The Land of the Pharoahs: murder, theft, betrayal, love, and a mummy's curse.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

murder | egyptologist | curse | mummy | bat | See All (32) »


Beyond the sealed door was the last undiscovered treasure in Egypt - And it's all hers - IF SHE CAN GET OUT ALIVE. See more »


PG | See all certifications »





Release Date:

11 February 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Esfinge  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$439,564, 16 February 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jill Clayburgh turned down the role of Erica Baron. See more »


References Hawaii Five-O (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

Nothing to do with the Sphinx
23 June 2008 | by See all my reviews

This film has nothing whatever to do with the Sphinx, and the title is just a come-on. The story concerns an imagined true and concealed tomb in the Valley of the Kings, of King Seti I, second pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, New Kingdom period. It is not a bad yarn, and a great deal of the film is shot on location. Even the scenes in the Winter Palace Hotel lobby in Luxor were really shot there, and not in a studio. The second unit stuff is endless, and they must have been let loose on Egypt for weeks. Frank Langella is very good indeed as a sophisticated Egyptian. He should take it up as a sideline. The film is essentially ruined by one of the world's most irritating actresses, Lesley Anne Down, who plays the lead. She spends the whole film wondering how she looks, are her blue eyes refracting light at the correct angle, do all the fellas lust after her, etc. Having started life as a model at the age of ten, what hope could there be for her? She epitomises everything that is most revolting about female vanity and dim-witted inanity. And to think that this film was directed by Franklin Shaffner, who won an Oscar for 'Patton'! He allows this terrible actress to whimper and simper through the film, hysterical one moment, flirting the next, in a kind of hurricane of idiocy as she reels from one man to another, either screaming or making bedroom eyes, it matters not. She is supposed to be a young Egyptologist. But she has never been to Egypt before! She takes a taxi to Giza and catching her first glimpse of the pyramids, gushes in ecstasy: 'But they're so BIG!!!!' Barf! OK, so that was the script, but she takes to the banality too readily, giving the impression that it is her natural element, which I don't doubt for a minute. Elements of the story are sound. There is, indeed, a serious problem about a black market in antiquities there. True! Well done! The novel by Robin Cook, which I have not seen, may be OK for all I know. It was fun to see the name of Cyril Swern as sound recordist on the film, as I knew him pretty well long ago. Stanley Kubrick's step-daughter Katharina is described as 'draughtswoman'. I wonder what that means? Maybe she did some set work. Anyway, the antiquities in the film are pretty good, actually. And we get to see lots of the Cairo Museum and numerous scenic locations. They actually go inside King Tutankhamun's Tomb! I don't imagine that would be allowed today for a movie. A lot of inappropriate scenes take place in mosques. That would not go down well today, but in 1981 such things were not on the agenda. The music for the film is absolutely appalling, worse than Lesley Anne Down in fact! But there were sound track elements which were surprisingly authentic, one being the cacophony of traffic noise of Cairo, which is accurately rendered in the background, and would make anyone who knows Cairo chuckle nervously. Also, the loudspeaker calls to prayer are there the whole time, another touch of authenticity. Why didn't they get this right? It could have been good.

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