Thursday, April 4, 2013

Charlton Heston Week: The Ten Commandments

Howdy folks and welcome to Day 4 of Charlton Heston Week and boy this should be a role easily recognized by even the most lapse of catholic but none other than Moses, deliverer of the Hebrew slaves…played by an Anglo Saxon. So get your sandals on, avoid heavy stone lifting and mind your Ps and Qs.  This is The Ten Commandments.

Oh my stars, what a filthy man.

Harden yourself against spoilers. Have no friend. Trust no woman.

To escape the decree of the Pharaoh, Rameses the first sentencing all newborn Hebrew males to death, young infant Moses is set up river on the Nile in a basket made of reeds. Saved by the pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah, she adopts the wee lad and he is raised in the Egyptian royalty.  As he has grown and becomes a man, Moses (Charlton Heston) is a general and a conqueror in his own right, fresh from the war with Ethiopia and has wooed the heart of Nefretiri (Anne Baxter of The Magnificent Ambersons, I Confess and All About Eve), all seems well for Moses until one day a slave is almost crushed to death by a pillar and the guards are reamed by Moses.  He speaks with the stone cutter Joshua (John Derek of All the King’s Men, Exodus and the Frontier Circus) to have another pillar commissioned and Joshua explains about the teachings of the Hebrew God. 

Um, we will just behave with this picture.

Moses sees with new eyes on how the Hebrew people have been mistreated and makes amendments to makes the work forces a bit easier and to allow these people a bit of a break if you will. These reforms irk Prince Rameses (Yul Brynner of Westworld, The King and I, The Magnificent Seven, and Death Rage) that he is most annoyed at the potential of revolt that he confides with Moses in private chambers the slaves call Moses the Deliverer of the prophecy.  Dathan (Edward G Robinson of The Man with Two Faces, Bullets or Ballots, Blackmail and The Sea Wolf) and Baka, (Vincent Price of the Fly, The Last Man on Earth, Master of the World, The Raven and Beach Party) master builder of the royal court do not care to see their childhood chum in this new light. Baka claims Joshua’s fiancĂ©e Liliah (Debra Paget of Broken Arrow, Love Me Tender and The Tomb of Love) because…well Joshua is a slave and has no rights at all…duh.  Moses gives up on reason and just clobbers the no good bum.   Banishment is very likely or possibly even death but Moses’ convictions were his.

And now I have just a few quick tidbits on the film itself. Mitchell VistaVision cameras giving a horizontal view and less fish eye lens than anamorphic were barely tested prior to this movie.   After Gone with the Wind, this was the highest grossing and earning Paramount Pictures film until The Sound of Music.  This film tallies out to 3 hours and 39 minutes which while this can kill your bottom from sitting that long you will find the movie to be rather captivating, the effects that made its era, an amazing musical score and top notch cast.  Point of fact that this was to be the last picture of director/producer Cecil B. DeMille(Why Change Your Wife? Adam’s Rib, Manslaughter, Feet of Clay, Cleopatra,Union Pacific and The Buccaneer) after directing the same titled movie 33 years prior.

Ladies and gentlemen, Cher!!