Review: ‘The Egyptian’

The decision to bring Mika Waltari's masterly scholarly-detailed [novel] The Egyptian to the screen must have taken a lot of courage, for this is a long way off the standard spectacle beat. The book tells a strange and unusual story laid against the exotic and yet harshly realistic background of the Egypt of 33 centuries ago, when there was a Pharaoh who believed in one god, and a physician who glimpsed a great truth and tried to live it.

The decision to bring Mika Waltari’s masterly scholarly-detailed [novel] The Egyptian to the screen must have taken a lot of courage, for this is a long way off the standard spectacle beat. The book tells a strange and unusual story laid against the exotic and yet harshly realistic background of the Egypt of 33 centuries ago, when there was a Pharaoh who believed in one god, and a physician who glimpsed a great truth and tried to live it.

Big coin – around $4.2 million – was splurged on bringing ancient Egypt to life again and the results justify the expense.

A big cast with good marquee appeal goes through its paces with obvious enjoyment. In the title part, Edmund Purdom etches a strong handsome profile. As the truth-seeking doctor who grows from weakness to the maturity of a new conviction, Purdom brings The Egyptian to life and makes him a man with whom the audience can easily identify and sympathize. Jean Simmons is lovely and warm as the tavern maid. Victor Mature as the robust Horemheb, the soldier who is to become ruler, is a strong asset to the cast.

1954: Best Color Cinematography

The Egyptian

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Michael Curtiz; Producer Darryl F. Zanuck; Screenplay Casey Robinson, Philip Dunne; Camera Leon Shamroy; Editor Barbara McLean; Music Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann; Art Director Lyle Wheeler, George W. Davis

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1954. Running time: 140 MIN.

With

Edmund Purdom Jean Simmons Victor Mature Gene Tierney Michael Wilding Peter Ustinov

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