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OK.  I'm going to admit it and say that I realize I'm in the minority.   I love "The Egyptian" and have ever since I first saw it.   I also realize that it did not do well at the box office. In fact, it was the first of Fox's CinemaScope productions to lose money.   The movie boasts a tremendous cast, one of Alfred Newman's greatest scores, beautiful sets, and an inspirational message.   Bella Darvi is usually singled out as the weakest in the acting department, .  I guess I don't understand why this movie has been regarded so poorly over the past few decades.  I would be interested how others feel.

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I saw it several years ago on TCM and liked it, although I'm not sure I would sit through it too many times. 

Just a note on the score: Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann both contributed.  Watch the scene where Darvi is being choked underwater; the background music has Herrmann's name written all over it.

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THE EGYPTIAN is awesome camp.  Whether BELLA DARVI was the weakest acting link is debatable as VICTOR MATURE once said "I'm no actor and I've got 37 movies to prove it!"  

GENE TIERNEY is always lovely to see and she's in one or two favorites, but SHE might be the weakest acting link.  She was gorgeous. 

EDMOND PURDOM is reliable, but I must admit, if it's got VICTOR MATURE, I like it.   I like THE EGYPTIAN.  :)

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2 hours ago, Terrence1 said:

OK.  I'm going to admit it and say that I realize I'm in the minority.   I love "The Egyptian" and have ever since I first saw it.   I also realize that it did not do well at the box office. In fact, it was the first of Fox's CinemaScope productions to lose money.   The movie boasts a tremendous cast, one of Alfred Newman's greatest scores, beautiful sets, and an inspirational message.   Bella Darvi is usually singled out as the weakest in the acting department, .  I guess I don't understand why this movie has been regarded so poorly over the past few decades.  I would be interested how others feel.

I love The Egyptian. It's my favorite epic.  I was taken to see it when I was very young, and, although several scenes were emblazoned upon my memory, I didn't remember what movie they were from until I saw the film as an adult. As a young child, I remember having a dream about a man with an eye patch who buys passage on a ship for himself and a boy, by taking a jewel out from the socket of his eye. Later on, I realized it was Peter Ustinov in The Egyptian. A few years ago, I showed a scene from the film to two friends who love films but are not into classic movies. The scene I showed was the scene where Sinuhe (Edmond Purdom) meets Nefer (Bella Darvi). It's a beautiful scene to look at (those blues!), and it's extremely well written and well acted.  My friends were mesmerized by it. I think the myth of Bella Darvi's acting not being very good derives from some off-screen stories about her, having nothing to do with her performance. She is perfect in that scene, and has one of the great lines: "The greatest gift a man can give is his innocence, and that he can only give once."

The film also has a terrific score written by Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman, which incorporates Egyptian instruments as well as "Hymn to the Sun," written by Akhenaten himself. The film also depicts the theology of the times, as well its possible influences, fairly accurately.

In his book Epic!: History of the Big Screen (1990), Baird Searles writes: 

"The Egyptian is one of the finest of historic spectaculars, combining a production as lavish as any that had come before with a script containing a certain amount of depth and resonance. ... The Egyptian settings were magnificent and more authentic than most."

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In my opinion, definitely one of the most underrated epic movies, and one of my favorites of the decade. The historical accuracy and attention to detail that went into the production design (costumes, sets, etc.) is super impressive for the period. I may be in a minority that thinks Darvi was great in it. What she lacks in acting experience she makes up for in charisma and star power (though she never was a major star in the US that I'm aware of)...and those wigs! Another user commented on Gene Tierney's acting. Say what you will about her acting ability (I'm a fan, but don't remember her too vividly in this movie), her bone structure was made for this kind of costuming! And The script, while certainly not free of the hokey cliches and sword-and-sandals stereotypes that were in vogue at the time, is nonetheless taut for the genre and more cerebral than one generally expects from this kind of material. However, the pseudo-philosophical misinterpretation of Akhenaten's monotheism as a sort of proto-Christianity is dated to 1950s Western culture. Just as a matter of taste, I further find the Egyptian setting and aesthetics more interesting and appealing than the more ubiquitous Greco-Roman.

A personal favorite of mine, even if it isn't as widely well-regarded as I feel it deserves.

curiously, based on the only Finnish novel ever adapted for a Hollywood film. I have a copy of that dusty old bestseller of yesteryear laying around here somewhere, but regrettably haven't read it yet. Also highly regarded for its historical accuracy and attention to detail, as I recall.

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The Egyptian is definitely underrated. I think it is the greatest ancient historical epic 2nd only to DeMille's The Ten Commandments.

Brando was supposed to play sinuhe but Edmund Purdom comes through! I think he gives a better performance then Brando could of.

and some of Michael Wilding's dialogue is incredibly timeless and profound...

"I am more fortunate then other men who have lived because he permitted me to recognize him. I was just a lone voice but

there will be other voices which will speak in words which cannot be misunderstood.

the freedom of men will not be denied forever."

:)

 

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I'm more on the fence than others.  I thought the movie wasn't all that great, but not all that bad either.  And I often wonder if BRANDO hadn't have quit before filming if his doing the part that eventually went to Purdom, would it have made any difference?  

Of course, having VICTOR MATURE in the cast meant that watching it whenever it hit the tube was mandatory in our house!  ;)  Mom would have loved it no matter how much it might have stunk.

Sepiatone

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It's been a while since I saw The Egyptian to give a really fair appraisal of it. I do recall  finding it splashy but cardboard empty, as I find almost all of Michael Curtiz's post 1950 films to be disappointments with one exception (The Proud Rebel).

I did enjoy watching Bella Darvi's scenes, though, probably more for her exotic appearance and variety of outlandish colourful wigs than anything else.

bella-darvi-2016.jpg

 

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Thank you, Terrence1, for the insight about the novel. I very much enjoy the fat, historical fiction epics of the time. I read Forever Amber to pieces; another that I think is underrated as a book, but is not nearly done justice by the censorship-stunted movie.

I can't imagine Brando in this, but may be of a minority opinion that he was miscast in these kinds of wordy historical pieces, with one exception: I like his Napoleon in Desiree, which brings me to Jean Simmons. I don't think anyone has mentioned her yet, but she's lovely in this. For an English girl, she really thrived in these dark maiden type roles.

As for Darvi, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, as they say. I can see how her features might be a bit strong for some, but I find her quite striking. Her performance does border heavily on the side of camp, aided by the outlandish array of drag-ready wigs that TomJH and I mentioned, but it's all part of the fun. I haven't seen the film recently enough to comment seriously on the technical quality of her acting, but all I can say is I sure as hell remember her in the film! I feel if one can make such a memorable impression, they must have done something right.

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17 hours ago, ClassicMovieholic said:

As for Darvi, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, as they say. I can see how her features might be a bit strong for some, but I find her quite striking. Her performance does border heavily on the side of camp, aided by the outlandish array of drag-ready wigs that TomJH and I mentioned, but it's all part of the fun. I haven't seen the film recently enough to comment seriously on the technical quality of her acting, but all I can say is I sure as hell remember her in the film! I feel if one can make such a memorable impression, they must have done something right.

And of course we need to keep in mind that Bella Darvi was playing The Whor_e of Babylon, and so is entitled to a little excess!

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Also a fan of the movie. It's one of the best historical spectacles of the 1950's, which made a specialty of them. I agree with ClassicMovieholic that it's a nice departure from the usual Greco-Roman setting. I never felt that Bella Darvi was the deal-breaker; that would be Victor Mature, whose goofy persona seemed way too contemporary. Bella Darvi fit the requirements of her role, with her slightly hypnotic, unmodulated delivery, and the hint of a lisp added to her other-worldly allure. Throw in the wigs and you have one exotic creature who could believably lure men to their doom. But in her scene at the end when she came to him for help her vulnerability seemed touchingly real. I'm also a fan of Edmund Purdom, who probably never really made it in this country because of the failure of this film and his other historical epic from the era, MGM's The Prodigal, which truly was a stinker. He seemed more relatable to me than, say, Richard Burton, who could too often veer off into bloviation.

I just happened to notice Fathom Events upcoming schedule, with things like The Blues Brothers and Annie. What a pity that they can't seem to see the value in something from an earlier era like The Egyptian, which I'm certain could captivate a modern audience on a big theater screen.

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the prodigal is watchable all the way through and we can look forward to the enjoyment of lana's big dive into the fire pit. the beginning of Land of the Pharoahs is good but then the whole film bogs down due to joan collins' nastiness but the ending will make the whole film watchable and it does evoke a sense of claustrophobia.

:)

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6 hours ago, DougieB said:

Also a fan of the movie. It's one of the best historical spectacles of the 1950's, which made a specialty of them. I agree with ClassicMovieholic that it's a nice departure from the usual Greco-Roman setting. I never felt that Bella Darvi was the deal-breaker; that would be Victor Mature, whose goofy persona seemed way too contemporary. Bella Darvi fit the requirements of her role, with her slightly hypnotic, unmodulated delivery, and the hint of a lisp added to her other-worldly allure. Throw in the wigs and you have one exotic creature who could believably lure men to their doom. But in her scene at the end when she came to him for help her vulnerability seemed touchingly real. I'm also a fan of Edmund Purdom, who probably never really made it in this country because of the failure of this film and his other historical epic from the era, MGM's The Prodigal, which truly was a stinker. He seemed more relatable to me than, say, Richard Burton, who could too often veer off into bloviation.

I just happened to notice Fathom Events upcoming schedule, with things like The Blues Brothers and Annie. What a pity that they can't seem to see the value in something from an earlier era like The Egyptian, which I'm certain could captivate a modern audience on a big theater screen.

I thought of Darvi's final scene, too. It is indeed surprisingly moving. 

Personally, I like Richard Burton. I find him more real and relatable than, say, Laurence Olivier, whom I would say veers more toward bloviation. I do however like Larry in his non-Shakespearean roles, but I found him so pompous and contrived in his Shakespeare productions. Burton is over the top, but I find him charismatic. Yet, I can totally see how someone would not enjoy him.

I think The Prodigal is marginally entertaining trash, but not a movie I would want to watch all the time. I remember once reading it described as a "semi-spectacle" which stuck with me; if anything it needed to be more bloated, more ostentatious, more committed to its own silliness.

I'd also had the thought that The Egyptian should be brought back to the big screen, and couldn't agree more! I would love to see this one and El Cid, but sadly, don't think either have a resonant enough following to make the current revival circuit. Possibly more so El Cid, but I won't hold my breath for The Egyptian.

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1 hour ago, NipkowDisc said:

the prodigal is watchable all the way through and we can look forward to the enjoyment of lana's big dive into the fire pit. the beginning of Land of the Pharoahs is good but then the whole film bogs down due to joan collins' nastiness but the ending will make the whole film watchable and it does evoke a sense of claustrophobia.

:)

Agreed! That and the stop-motion animated vulture pit! Some creative Hays Code evasion with Lana's costuming, too😉.

I think Land of the Pharaohs is fun camp that gets a bum rap from serious critics. Personally speaking, I am here for the Joan Collins nastiness! Nobody does it better. I agree that the ending is magnificent. Scared the bloody hell out of me when I was a kid, and still low-key obsessed with it all these years later.😲😳😱😍

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On 10/10/2020 at 1:24 PM, Terrence1 said:

OK.  I'm going to admit it and say that I realize I'm in the minority.   I love "The Egyptian" and have ever since I first saw it.   I also realize that it did not do well at the box office. In fact, it was the first of Fox's CinemaScope productions to lose money.   The movie boasts a tremendous cast, one of Alfred Newman's greatest scores, beautiful sets, and an inspirational message.   Bella Darvi is usually singled out as the weakest in the acting department, .  I guess I don't understand why this movie has been regarded so poorly over the past few decades.  I would be interested how others feel.

Someone else who should be singled out for camp value-added in the acting department is Judith Evelyn, who played Pharaoh's mother, swilling her beer while ostentatiously working on her "fowler's knots". The same year she gloriously overplayed "Miss Lonelyhearts" in Rear Window and the following year she was the previous owner of Joan Crawford's glam beach house in Female on the Beach, pitching herself off the deck in a tearful boozy stupor. In The Tingler with Vincent Price she provided a master class in over-the-top lunacy as the theater owner's wife who saw the hand coming out of the bloody bathtub and found her death certificate inside the medicine cabinet. Props to Ms. Evelyn for her camp tendencies. She began as a stage actress and was actually in the national tour of A Streetcar Named Desire, during which a critic, presumably erring on the side of charity,  described her as a "lesser" Blanche. In the old game of What-historical-event-would-you-like-to-be-present-at?, her Blanche would be near the top of my list. 

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8 hours ago, DougieB said:

Someone else who should be singled out for camp value-added in the acting department is Judith Evelyn, who played Pharaoh's mother, swilling her beer while ostentatiously working on her "fowler's knots". The same year she gloriously overplayed "Miss Lonelyhearts" in Rear Window and the following year she was the previous owner of Joan Crawford's glam beach house in Female on the Beach, pitching herself off the deck in a tearful boozy stupor. In The Tingler with Vincent Price she provided a master class in over-the-top lunacy as the theater owner's wife who saw the hand coming out of the bloody bathtub and found her death certificate inside the medicine cabinet. Props to Ms. Evelyn for her camp tendencies. She began as a stage actress and was actually in the national tour of A Streetcar Named Desire, during which a critic, presumably erring on the side of charity,  described her as a "lesser" Blanche. In the old game of What-historical-event-would-you-like-to-be-present-at?, her Blanche would be near the top of my list. 

oh so that wasn't agnes moorehead.

:lol:

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12 hours ago, DougieB said:

Agnes was no slouch either. It takes a special kind of actor to be able to overplay a role and yet still be entertaining.

Now Doug! You KNOW you didn't need to explain this sort'a thing to Nip here, don't ya?!

(...nope, not to one of the biggest Bill Shatner fans you'll ever run across, anyway!) 

;)

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15 hours ago, DougieB said:

Agnes was no slouch either. It takes a special kind of actor to be able to overplay a role and yet still be entertaining.

Mercedes McCambridge comes to mind in this regard.    Orson Welles called her "the world's greatest living radio actress."

Maybe sometimes she forgets she is being filmed and isn't just on the radio!

(and of course there is the Welles connection with Moorehead as well).

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