THE
TEN COMMANDMENTS
CHUCK: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
DIRECTOR: Cecil B. DeMille, 1956

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS was DeMille's last film, and, appropriately, the master of the biblical epic concluded his career with a larger-than-life production, packed with enormous crowd scenes, lavish spectacles, strong-willed men and their devoted women, and wide-screen special effects, all orchestrated with dazzling brilliance. This is the story of Moses and the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, a tale which DeMille had previously filmed in 1923.


SYNOPSIS:


THE TEN COMMANDMENTS opens as Rameses I (Ian Keith), the pharoah who has enslaved the Jewish people, is told that the 'Deliverer' of the Hebrews will soon be born and grow up to free his people. Keith commands that all newborn Jewish males be slaughtered, but Martha Scott (Yochabel)
places her small son in a basket and sends him floating down the river Nile. Nina Foch, pharoah's sister, finds the child and brings him up as her own son, naming him Moses. Years pass, and the now-adult Moses (Charlton Heston) has become a Prince of Egypt, not knowing his Jewish background. Yul Brynner (Rameses II), pharoah's son, is jealous knowing that only one of them can succeed to rule Egypt. Brynner and Heston are in a constant competition over who can build the best monuments for Sethi (Cedric Hardwicke), who is now ruling Egypt. Brynner and Heston are also in competition over  winning the love of  Anne Baxter( Nefretiri). Heston is a kind prince and is sicken by the hardships of the Jewish people under the Egyptian rule. He comes across Vincent Price, an Egyptian builder, whipping and about to kill John Derek (Joshua), a Jewish slave. In the struggle Heston kills Price. Edward G. Robinson, a Hebrew spying for Sethi, reports this, and Heston's Jewish background is soon revealed to Sethi. Baxter ties to seduce Heston into forgetting his people but he will not do this. Heston is banished into the desert and ends up in the camp of Eduard Franz, a Jewish elder. Heston helps Franz's daughters to fend off some attackers at their well and eventually marries his daughter, De Carlo (Sephora ). While tending his herd of sheep on Mount Sinai, God appears to Heston as a miraculous burning bush and commands him to deliver the Jews from bondage. Heston walks down the jagged slops of the mountain in his barefeet, which was 'Holy Ground'. His face is lit up with the knownledge of what God expects from him. Heston goes to  Egypt to confront Brynner, who is now Pharoah. Heston demands to Pharoah that God wants Egypt to "LET MY PEOPLE GO!" but the Brynner refuses to free the Jews. With the might of the Lord behind him, Heston causes 10 plagues to fall upon the Egyptians. Finally Heston warns Brynner that Brynner would state what the last plague would be. Brynner command that all the firstborn of the Jews should be slaughtered but has set the plague on his own people instead. All firstborn Egyptian sons would die. The Jews are spared by the 'Angel of Death' by smearing lambs blood on their doorway. The 'Angel of Death' passes over their houses and the first Passover is celebrated. After this plague, Brynner finally allows the Hebrews to leave in a mass exodus. Heston leads the masses out of the city to the 'promised land' saying these words: "Hear well,  Israel. Remember this day when the strong hand of the Lord leads you out of bondage !" After the Jews leave, Brynner is taunted by Baxter telling him that he is weak to have let them go and Brynner decides to send his chariots after the freed slaves. With their backs to the edge of the Red Sea and the charioteers advancing towards them, Heston  bars their way with a pillar of fire. Heston next tells the Jews to have faith in God. He then raises his arms saying:"BEHOLD THE HAND OF GOD!"and parts the waters of the Red Sea. The Jews safely make their way to the opposite bank, but the Egyptian soldiers are drowned as the Red Sea closes on them. Brynner is the only survivor of the holocuast. Heston brings his people to Mount Sinai and climbs to the top of the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments from God. With the 'finger of God' writing down His commandments on two tablets Moses is humbled. Meanwhile Robinson convinces the others that Heston is misguided and has them build a Golden Calf to worship. He challenges Heston, when Heston descends from the mountain. Heston angrily smashes the tablets against the Golden Calf. Suddenly the earth quakes and opens up and many disbelievers are hurled to their death. As punishment for their disbelief in God's might, the Hebrews are forced to wander 40 years in the desert until all those who had sinned in the sight of God were consumed. Finally, the Promised Land is within sight. On top of Mount Nebo, Heston watches his people cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land. He charges and bids Derek (Joshua) to lead the people thereafter.  Bathed in a glorious light, Moses becomes a legend among  men.

With THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, DeMille brings to life the story of Moses on a scale no other filmmaker ever envisioned. Everything here is presented in a grandiose style, yet the fine cast is never overwhelmed by the lavish sweep of this epic. Heston is magnificent as Moses, playing the great prophet as a humble man with a great inner strength. DeMille chose Heston, in part, because of his strong resemblance to the famed Michaelangelo statue of Moses. DeMille is quoted as saying, "There had never been any doubt in my mind about who should play Moses. And my choice was strikingly affirmed when I had a sketch made of Chuck in a white beard and compared it to Michelangelo's famous statue. The resemblance was amazing. But it wasn't merely an external resemblance. Charlton Heston brought to the role a rapidly maturing skill as an actor and an earnest understanding of the human and spritiual quality of Moses." Heston would do take after take until satisfied with the results and buried himself in Old Testament readings, memorizing whole sections and insisted on walking barefoot through the jagged Mount Sinai rocks. Brynner plays the pharaoh wonderfully with utmost  seriousness. The supporting players gave Heston, Brynner, and their director strength. There is hardly a bad performance in the lot. Heston's infant son, Fraser, had his one and only acting job, playing the role of baby Moses. Heston provided the voice of God during the writing of the Commandments scene & the burning bush scene. He has always had a wonderful commanding voice and this film used it well. The Exodus sequence is a masterful coordination of cast, crew, and camera. Though the performances and epic nature of the film were unforgettable, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS is well remembered for its Oscar-winning special effects. The most impressive of all was the parting of the Red Sea.

AWARDS:    Nominated for seven Academy Awards including: Best Picture (losing to AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS), Best Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Costume Design. Won  an Oscar for Best Special Effects.


MY COMMENTS:

I remember seeing this movie as a child and was astounded by the special effects. The parting of the Red Sea was awesome and the other special effects stayed embedded in my memory. Chuck did a marvelous job with this role and film. He emersed himself in this role and his research and studing of Moses showed in his performance. Chuck WAS Moses. The local 'extra' actors in Egypt, where this movie was filmed, almost believed him to be 'Moses' because his presence and acting conveyed this  famous man so well. I really think that Chuck should've be nominated for his first Oscar for this role. He has and will always be remembered for the wondeful job he did playing Moses for generations to come.







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Academy Award: Best Special Effects - John Fulton
Academy Award Nomination: Best Picture
Best Color Cinematography - Loyal Griggs
Best Film Editing - Anne Bauchens
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Color) - Hal Pereira, Walter H. Tyler, Albert Nozaki, Sam M. Comer, Ray Moyer
Best Costume Design (Color) - Edith Head, Ralph Jester, John Jensen, Dorothy Jeakins, Arnold Friberg
Best Sound Recording - Loren L. Ryder
Country of origin: U.S.
Genre: Religious
Color or b/w: Color
Production Co(s).: Paramount
Released By: Paramount
MPAA rating: NR
Parental rating: Good for children
Running time: 219



CAST:

Charlton Heston- Moses & The 'Voice of God'
Yul Brynner- Rameses II
Anne Baxter- Nefretiri
Edward G. Robinson- Dathan
Yvonne De Carlo -Sephora
Debra Paget -Lilia
John Derek -Joshua
Cedric Hardwicke-Sethi
Nina Foch -Bithiah
Martha Scott-Yochabel
Judith Anderson-Memnet
Vincent Price -Baka
John Carradine-Aaron
Eduard Franz -Jethro
Olive Deering -Miriam
Ian Keith- Rameses I
Donald Curtis -Mered
Douglas Dumbrille-Jannes
Lawrence Dobkin -Hur Ben Caleb
Frank De Kova -Abiram
H.B. Warner -Amminadab
Henry Wilcoxon -Pentaur
Julia Faye -Elisheba
Lisa Mitchell-Jethro's Daughter
Noelle Williams-Jethro's Daughter
Joanna Merlin -Jethro's Daughter
Pat Richard -Jethro's Daughter
Joyce Vanderveen-Jethro's Daughter
Diane Hall -Jethro's Daughter
Abbas El Boughdadly-Rameses' Charioteer
Eugene Mazzola-Rameses' Son
Fraser Heston-Infant Moses



CREDITS:

Producer: Cecil B. DeMille
Assoc. Producer: Henry Wilcoxon
Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Writer: Aeneas MacKenzie, Jesse Lasky Jr., Jack Gariss , & Fredric M. Frank (based on the novels The Prince of Egypt by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, Pillar of Fire by the Rev. J.H. Ingraham, and On Eagle's Wings by the Rev. G.E. Southon, and in accordance with the Bible, the ancient texts of Josephus, Eusebius, Philo, and The Midrash)
Cinematographer: Loyal Griggs, John F. Warren, 
W. Wallace Kelley, & Peverell Marley (VistaVision, Technicolor)
Editor: Anne Bauchens
Music Composer: Elmer Bernstein
Art Director: Hal Pereira, Walter Tyler & Albert Nozala
Set Decorator: Sam Comer & Ray Moyer
Special Effects: John P. Fulton
Costume Design: Edith Head, Ralph Jester, John Jensen, Dorothy Jeakins, & Arnold Friberg
Make Up: Wally Westmore, Frank Westmore &
Frank McCoy
Choreography: LeRoy Prinz & Ruth Godfrey
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CHARLTON HESTON AS MOSES
CHUCK AS MOSES
CHUCK & YUL BRYNNER, CEDRIC HARDWICKE, ANNE BAXTER
CHARLTON HESTON AS PRINCE  MOSES
CHUCK RIDING A CHARIOT
CHUCK & ANNE BAXTER
CHUCK AS MOSES ('56)
CHUCK HOLDING 'THE TEN COMMANDMENTS'
CHUCK & YUL BRYNNER: "LET MY PEOPLE GO!"
CHUCK HOLDING THE TEN COMMENDMENTS
"YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO RECEIVE THESE TEN COMMANDMENTS!!!"
CHARLTON HESTON AS MOSES
ABOVE 2 PICTURES DONATED BY DOUG REEVES
CHARLTON HESTON AS MOSES
"BEHOLD HIS MIGHTY HAND!"
COLOR PICTURES BELOW FROM
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
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ALL PICTURES BELOW DONATED BY: DOUG REEVES, JOJOGIRL & CINDY DAVIS
Nina Foch as Bithiah with Fraser Heston as Baby Moses
Charlton Heston as Moses
Yul Brynner:Rameses II & Anne Baxter: Nefretiri
"LET MY PEOPLE GO!"
CHUCK AS MOSES
MOSES & FAMILY AT THE FIRST PASSOVER
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