“What reason is there to build a pyramid to hold a tomb if the tomb may be violated?”
In Ancient Egypt, single-minded Pharaoh Khufu (Jack Hawkins) hires an enslaved architect (James Robertson Justice) to design a full-proof tomb that will secure his body and belongings for the after-life — but his second wife, wily Nellifer (Joan Collins), longs for his riches, and plots with her lover (Sydney Chaplin) to kill Khufu and his first wife (Kerima) and son (Piero Giagnoni).
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “mediocre milepost in Howard Hawks’s otherwise brilliant career” has a cult “among adults who saw [it] as kids and were excited by such sights as a bunch of bald, tongueless priests allowing themselves to be buried alive in a tomb; some cowards being hurled into an alligator pit; and statuesque beauty Joan Crawford displaying a bare midriff”. However, he concedes that “seeing it today, few will disagree that it’s just another silly, stiltedly acted historical epic”. While there are impressive crowd scenes, there are “no expensive battle sequences to take advantage of CinemaScope; the cast is second-rate…; the make-up is bad”; and the storyline “lacks intrigue, suspense and visual elements”. Land of the Pharaohs remains of interest simply because “it was Hawks’s most ambitious project conceptually”, requiring “10,000 extras, 50 days filming in Egypt, and the simulated construction of the base of the great pyramid” — and the “entombment finale (with pouring sand and sliding blocks) remains truly spectacular.” But overall, as Peary himself concedes, “this is a pretty dull film that only… longtime fans can really enjoy”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Magnificent recreations of an ancient era
- The exciting finale
Yes, once, as a cult favorite. Discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies.