|The imposing pyramid-tomb|
"Strange religion to deny a future to those who failed in the past."
Pharaoh Khufu (Jack Hawkins) has one main goal, and that is to see that his tomb will be completely safe from violation so he can enjoy his treasures in the after-life. Learning that many other tombs have been broken into, Khufu has the slave and architect Vashtar (James Robertson Justice) design and build an impregnable -- and clever -- burying place for him. In the meantime foreign Princess Nellifer (Joan Collins), herself turned into a slave, manages to make herself one of Khufu's wives, and is determined to become Queen of All Egypt no matter whom she has to kill; obviously power has gone to her head. But will she achieve her goal, or succumb to a much more ironic fate ... ? Land of the Pharaohs is a very entertaining movie, with a splendid lead performance from the authoritative and commanding Jack Hawkins [Ben-Hur]. Joan Collins is also very effective, especially in her early confrontations with Hawkins -- as are Sydney Chaplin as Nellifer's lover, Treneh, the captain of the guard, and Alexis Minotis as Hamar, the Pharaoh's good right hand. There's some odd casting in this, however, with Justice (who usually plays blustery characters in such films as Doctor in Love) adequate as Vashtar and Dewey Martin [The Thing from Another World] handsome and acceptable as Vashtar's grown son, Senta. (Hawks used Martin in other movies as well.) At times the brassy musical score [Dimitri Tiomkin] reminds one of a Broadway musical, and Hawks' direction is not as assured or inspired as it might have been, although the settings are always colorful and the movie has an elaborate production. There's a scene when some who have displeased Pharaoh are thrown to the gators. Believe it or not, William Faulkner was one of the screenwriters! Great ending! Oddly, the movie was a commercial failure.
Verdict: Perhaps not as fictional as one might imagine, although this is still Hollywood. ***.