From time to time, I have seen this film shown on ABC during late March or early April. I guess they usually show it around the time of Passover. I find the acting a little too melodramatic and the lines kind of corny. Some of the special effects look dated such as the burning bush and when Moses’ staff turns into a snake, (sort of looks like cartoon animated). The parting of the Red Sea I guess still holds up as far as convincing special effects go for the time. Then there are the sexual references such as when Moses’ people worship a false idol and they are all dancing while he is up on Mount Sinai getting the Ten Commandants from God. I think they couldn’t and wouldn’t show what they considered lewd behavior at the time due to the Production Code. Also, there is the scene, when Moses is sent out of Egypt by Ramses and he fights a man with his staff near a bunch of women which I find poorly choreographed. I find the music score to be good though. I believe it is by Elmer Bernstein. I saw only a part of it recently when it was on television this year. I got a VHS copy that I purchased for a few dollars, but have never got around to watching it. I also believe that the off screen narrator in the film is the director of the film itself, Cecil B. DeMille. Do other people feel this way about the film? Or do they find it to be a classic that cannot be tarnished by such claims, perhaps because of the time period it came out of or the kind of film it is or something else? Thoughts?
It’s guilty of everything you accuse it of, but all the more pleasurable because of it. This is over the top spectacle to it’s core. Maybe you don’t want films to do that and I’d agree they shouldn’t always, but there’s something to be said for a film that just wants to be the most giant epic ever.
Yes, in 2012, the special effects would be dated. Hell, the special effects in Star Wars are dated by now, but in 1956, the parting of the Red Sea was like Avatar in 3D. The over the top acting is funny in a few cases (Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson), but Yul Brynner nails it and Charlton Heston played the role as he should have.
Like much of the best camp, it was made by people very sincere about what they were doing. They wanted to bring this larger than life Bible story to life in a larger than life way. The themes still resonate and, while certainly flawed, its also kind of wonderful.
I was 6 years old when I first saw this movie and I have loved movies ever since and loved them on the big screen I never miss this one when ABC shows it.
I always thought it was kind of funny how they put Yvonne De Carlo into a role where Moses is supposed to be “settling” for her, but she is, IMO, the most beautiful person in the entire movie.
But yes, I enjoy The Ten Commandments, and agree with Brad S. that its faults also make it all the better
I love The Ten Commandments….it’s one of my earliest memories of cinematic spectacle. All of the criticisms leveled at it are spot on but like it was stated earlier….those flaws are what make the film so much fun!!!!
Anne Baxter gives the best worst performance of all time….camp never was played to the hilt as by her Nefertiti….heck..she’s almost unrecognizable in the costumes and wig.
..and Edward G. Robinson as an Israelite overseer…..with a Brooklyn accent….love it!!!!!!
Plus who can resist a film with this cast….Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne DeCarlo, Edward G Robinson, John Derek, Debra Paget, Vincent Price, John Carradine, Martha Scott…talk about an all star cast.
DeMille’s films have all become somewhat campy with time….Samson and Delilah anyone? But they are still some of the most entertaining films to ever come out of classic Hollywood…..
He was a shameless showman….and he was darn good at it.
Classic camp. Probably the longest campy movie I can think of, it keeps going and going.
I love THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, a great mad romantic avalanche of High Hollywood Piety, and the hilarious thing is they mean every single word of it. I think it is fascinating to watch to see who among the cast can get away with the overheated DeMillespeak. Anne Baxter, Vincent Price and the sublime Edward G. Robinson and the sublimer Yul Brynner add some life to their characters via some good solid overplaying, while others like Cedric Hardwicke, Yvonne De Carlo and especially Nina Foch somehow manage to make the silliness work by playing it straight. Poor John Derek lets his torso do most of the work, boy is he earnest. Heston goes for total seriousness and it kind of works, but Moses devolves into such a humorless demagogue that no one could make him believable. De Mille even undercuts his own leading man in that final scene, where Moses appears wearing what looks like about 20 pounds of carefully styled cotton wool. The man’s astonishing physical presence carries the day, I think — is there any doubt that he himself gets God himself to part the Red Sea?
^ Everything Brad S. said. It can’t be stated better.
And nobody can say the name ‘Moooow-zess’ like Anne Baxter!
I don’t know if I’d say it’s “overrated” so much as it is appreciated for aspects other than the quality of the film making (there are better films even among DeMille’s earlier work). It’s a sort of pageant film.
Is it great? No. Is it good? I believe so. It’s interesting enough, even though I don’t remember a whole lot. It has its flaws, but it’s an enjoyable, worthy epic.