The Ten Commandments (1956)

A Little Background: With Easter upon us, I thought it would be the perfect time to revisit this classic epic. I’ve probably seen it close to a dozen times, but I can always find something fresh in each repeat viewing. For instance, how was I supposed to know that notable uncredited roles in this film include Patricia Hitchcock, Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer, Richard Farnsworth, Herb Alpert and Robert Vaughn? Well, I wasn’t supposed to know, that’s why they were uncredited.

The Film: “The Greatest Event in Motion Picture History” seems like a billing header that’s just a cheap marketing ploy. It wasn’t. This was the most ambitious movie to date when it opened sixty years ago. It included a record-breaking budget, on-location filming at Mount Sinai, and a monster cast headlined by Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, John Derek, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nina Foch, Martha Scott, Judith Anderson, and Vincent Price. The soft, but stern narration was provided by Hollywood legend and Paramount Pictures producer/director Cecil B. DeMille. This was a partial remake of DeMille’s 1923 The Ten Commandments, and this film turned out to be his last. Over his career, he was able to bring an unrivaled approach to religious films, respecting the source and the art form alike. The film grossed almost $123 million (in 1956, by the way) and gathered seven Academy Award nominations.

Three Favorite Things: the reverent yet poetic treatment of the story, the stage-like spacing and dialogue delivering, and Vincent Price… just because, Vincent Price


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