Sunday, 17 March 2013

MARCH 17, 2013

 060 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.***

I first saw this film on its first release when I was about ten and was naturally unpressed and have seen it maybe half a dozen times, It is, to be truthful, a clunking great beast of a movie and watching it this time I found it rather dull. But, that said, it is an event rather than a film and you can just sit back and enjoy the
fruity dialogue, the spectacle and some great turns by actors who seem to be having a good time - Edward G. Robinson, Vincent Price, Cedric Hardwicke and Anne Baxter (she's a real hoot). Charlton Heston plays it impressively straight but is acted of the screen by Yul Brynner who provides the film's best performance as Ramsese. A classic?  Certainly, but a clunky one.

The Ten Commandments (1956)

061 THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1923) Directed by Cecil B. DeMille *****

DeMille is often derided as a not very good director but he knew how to deliver the goods at the box-office even if he doesn't always please latter day critiwith the film's messagecs. This film has re-awakened my interest in DeMille. The film, unlike the 1956 film is in two parts. The first tells the story of the Exodus (but in nowhere as much detail as the later film) while the second half is a modern day morality tale built around the Ten Commandments. As you might expect the film has a strong religious message that modern, more cynical audiences may find not to their taste - although the film delivers a double whammy as the film actually reflects that attitude. Personally I had no problems.  The historical portion of the film is, I thought, superior, more spectacular and impressive than the remake. But I adored the contemporary  tale as a great piece of film story telling with wonderful performances by Richard Dix, Leatrice Joy, Nita Naldi, Vilma Banky and Rod La Roque. The doctor who appears during the collapse of the church sequence is Charles Ogle who earned a place in horror film history by being the first actor to portray the Frankenstein monster on film in the 1910 Edison film.  DeMille directs beautifully. The DVD has an excellent commentary by DeMille expert Katherine Orrison.  I watched the film twice in a day - once without the commentary and once with.

The Ten Commandments (1923)


James wellyousaythat said...

I've always thought of The Ten Commandments (1956) as a sort of It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World in sandals

Weaverman said...

Spot on, James!