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The Ten Commandments [1956] (2 discs)
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Director:Cecil B. DeMille
Writer:Fredric M. Frank
Jack Gariss
Jesse Lasky Jr.
Æneas MacKenzie
Composer:Elmer Bernstein
Length:231 minutes
(3 hours 51 minutes)
MPAA Rating:G
Suggested Event Use:Easter
Sorting Category:Religious
IMDB Rating:7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:90%
Amazon Rating:4.5/5 stars
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Classifications:
  • Drama
  • Family
  • Action
  • Romance
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Synopsis: The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.


Reaction: A great classic. Well told and clearly plenty of work went into this opus.


Personal Rating: 9/10

Select Cast and Crew
Cecil B. DeMille => Director
Fredric M. Frank => Writer
Jack Gariss => Writer
Jesse Lasky Jr. => Writer
Æneas MacKenzie => Writer
Elmer Bernstein => Composer
Arnold Friberg => Costumes / Assistant Art Director
Anne Baxter => Nefretiri
Babette Bain => Little Miriam
Cedric Hardwicke => Sethi (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Charlton Heston => Moses / God (voice)
Debra Paget => Lilia
Donald Curtis => Mered
Donald Hayne => God (Pillar of Fire) (uncredited)
Douglass Dumbrille => Jannes
Eduard Franz => Jethro
Edward G. Robinson => Dathan (as Edward G Robinson)
Eugene Mazzola => Rameses' Son
Frank DeKova => Abiram
Frank Wilcox => Wazir
Fraser Clarke Heston => The Infant Moses (as Fraser Heston)
H.B. Warner => Amminadab
Henry Wilcoxon => Pentaur
Ian Keith => Rameses I
Irene Martin => Tuya
John Carradine => Aaron
John Derek => Joshua
John Miljan => The Blind One
Judith Anderson => Memnet
Julia Faye => Elisheba
Kathy Garver => Rachel (uncredited)
Lawrence Dobkin => Hur Ben Caleb
Martha Scott => Yochabel
Nina Foch => Bithiah
Olive Deering => Miriam
Onslow Stevens => Lugal
Robert Carson [II] => Eleazar as an Adult
Robert Vaughn => Hebrew at Golden Calf (uncredited) / Spearman
Tommy Duran => Gershom
Vincent Price => Baka
Yul Brynner => Rameses
Yvonne De Carlo => Sephora

Random Trivia For This Title:

  • Every year since 1973, American TV network ABC airs this film on Easter, or Passover. In 1999, when for some reason ABC chose not to televise it, they received more irate phone calls from people accustomed to watching it every Easter than they have for any other film they have ever telecast.
  • Last film directed and produced by Cecil B. DeMille, who, despite his fame and success, won only one Oscar, for The Greatest Show on Earth - not for his Biblical spectaculars. This was also Cecil B. DeMille's only movie made in widescreen. Four years had elapsed between DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth and The Ten Commandments, by which time widescreen films had become standard practice. In 1952, when "Greatest Show" was released, all films, except for This is Cinerama, were still being made in the old non-widescreen Academy ratio.
  • Animation was employed to create the hail as it was falling from the sky in the background, but popcorn that had been spray-painted white fell as "hail" onto the pavilion of Rameses' palace. It was light so it could not hurt the actors, it bounced like real hail; and it could be swept up and used again for additional takes of the scene. The fire that burned from the hail was created by animation.
  • Urban legend has it that Anne Baxter's character's name was changed from Nefertiti to Nefertiri because Cecil B. DeMille was afraid people would make "boob" jokes. In reality, DeMille was sticking to history: Rameses II's queen was called Nefretiri. Nefertiti lived about 60 years earlier than Rameses and Nefertiti. Both names mean "Beautiful".
  • 2 CAMEOS (and in same scene): Babette Bain was Little Miriam, while Fraser Clarke Heston, son of Charlton Heston was Moses, as an infant.
  • The special effects work was so extensive that it was not completed by the final edit. The released version contains fringing during some blue screen shots which the crew did not have time to correct.
  • Just under 5% of the film was actually shot in Egypt. When asking the Egyptian authorities for permission to film there, Cecil B. DeMille was pleasantly surprised to find out they were fans of his film The Crusades. "You treated us [Arabs in the film] so well, you may do anything here you want," they told him. Several shots that appear throughout the movie are shots that were matted together from scenes shots on location in Egypt and scenes shots at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Most notable scenes featuring this multi-location matte-shooting are the scenes which Moses and Sethi watch the Obelisk being raised; the slaves in the background were shot in Egypt, the foreground with Moses and Sethi shot in Hollywood, and the background pylons being matte paintings.
  • Feature film debut of Robert Vaughn.
  • Audrey Hepburn was originally slated for the role of "Nefretiri". Cecil B. DeMille reluctantly decided to pass on her after it was judged that she was too "slender" (i.e., flat-chested). Anne Baxter, who was eventually cast in the role, had originally been a contender for the role of "Sephora."
  • During the early part of principal photography, Yul Brynner was still on Broadway starring in The King and I. All of his shots on the actual Egyptian locations were done in one day after which he had to fly back to New York.
  • When Yul Brynner was told he would be playing Pharaoh Rameses II, opposite of Charlton Heston's Moses and that he would be shirtless for a majority of the film, he began a rigorous weight lifting program because he did not want to be physically overshadowed by Charlton Heston (which explains his buffer than normal physique during The King and I, his other film he was acted and on, approximately a month apart, at the time of the two films, as they were started and completed.
  • In the initial Egyptian sequence, Nefretiri is referred to as "the throne princess" who "must marry the next Pharaoh." According to ancient Egyptian royal custom, this implies that she is Seti's daughter, who is expected to marry his successor, regardless of her kinship to that man. (The real Nefretiri's parentage is unknown.) But if Seti was explicitly identified as her father, it would be clear that in the end, Ramses married his sister in an incestuous union. This was evidently seen as inappropriate for a 1950s audience that would certainly include children. As a result, Nefretari was only called "the throne princess," without any explanation, this is why she has enjoyed that distinction, while it was in progress.
  • At the end of the movie, after Charlton Heston as Moses has turned over leadership of the Israelites to Joshua, he watches as the Israelites march into Caanan. At this point, Moses was supposed to have been enveloped in the fog coming down from the mountain, but the effect was never completed. As a result, Moses is shown to be standing there watching the Israelites go, and this is closer to what is related in the actual Bible than what Cecil B. DeMille originally intended.
  • At the concluding scene, when when Moses was saying goodbye, he gave Eliazar the 5 books (Torah) he had written under the direction of God. What Moses was holding in his hand was a worn but modern day portfolio. Charlton Heston said he tried to get Cecil B. DeMille to make them scrolls, which would be more suitable for them, but Cecil B. DeMille refused.