Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Ten Commandments (1956)

Director: Cecil B. DeMille

Writers: Dorothy Clarke Wilson, J.H. Ingraham, A.E. Southon, Aeneas MacKenzie, Jesse Lasky Jr., Jack Gariss, Fredric M. Frank

Composer: Elmer Bernstein

Starring: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, John Derek, Cedric Hardwicke, Nina Foch, Martha Scott, Judith Anderson, Vincent Price, John Carradine, Olive Deering, Douglass Dumbrille, Frank DeKova, Henry Wilcoxon, Eduard Franz, Donald Curtis, Lawrence Dobkin, H.B. Warner, Julia Faye, Woody Strode, Mike Connors, Clint Walker, Frank Wilcox

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Greatest Event in Motion Picture History

Plot: The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe in another 30 years.

I saw this once before and it was a good thirty years ago.  It would've been either on TV (with commercials) or on VHS.  Either way it was watched on a small TV.  I finally got to see it in a theater with the recent TCM special event showings and it was great to see such a spectacle film on the big screen.  It really makes all the difference in the world.  The three hour and forty minutes took its toll on my butt about three hours in.  Woof.  Initially the acting may feel stagy and pretentious but you get used to it quickly.  I guess there's no avoiding that style when you consider the time period, director, and that it's a biblical period piece.  Heston is great, Brynner is fun and I liked Robinson a lot (he's one of my top favorite actors).  Brynner is playing his puffy chest best but there's a moment when Moses (Heston) comes back to Egypt and confronts Rameses (Brynner) to "Let my people go".  Rameses sits there all unimpressed and incredulous.  His line delivery isn't stately like it is for the everything else, he talks like a regular guy as in, "You're shittin' me, right?".  It's brilliant and it's the most genuine moment in the picture.

There's so much to say but I don't want to spend too much time writing it.  Savvy?  The effects are all over the place from dodgy to amazing which is odd because it won the Oscar for best special effects, beating out the only other film, FORBIDDEN PLANET!?!?!?!  The hell?  Moses coming down off of the mountain after hearing the voice of god the first time sporting a new, bigger hairdo that would make Michael Landon jealous was hilarious, plus that bigger, darker, sharper beard.  They actually did a fabulous job on that Heston makeup until the last transition into flowing white hair and beard which looked phony as crap.  Excellent Elmer Bernstein themes and score.  I was surprised at how little music there was prior to the intermission but they made up for it in the final third.  I never read the bible so I've got no idea how closely this picture adheres to the stories but it is an epic tale with romance, intrigue, action and lots of supernatural goings-on (the latter is nearly all after the intermission).  The supernatural/religious stuff is really hard to swallow as it creates a plethora of plot holes but then I'm watching this as a work of fiction and, as such, it's very entertaining.  Some people I know find it tough to believe that my atheist ass would drop $12 down for a ticket, even after explaining that I watch horror movies without believing in ghosts.  For that twelve bucks, I wanted to be taken on a fantastical, entertaining ride to a place I could never visit to see people I'll never know and despite a sore tuchas, I got exactly that.  It was worth it.

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