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The Egyptian Details


Based on the novel by Mika Waltari and helmed by Casablanca director Michael Curtiz, The Egyptian, a lavish period soaper, is set several centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. Young Egyptian healer Sinuhe Edmund Purdom (ere accompanied by his servant, Kaptah, played by Peter Ustinov) draws the affection of barmaid Merit (Jean Simmons) who seeks his hand in marriage. Sinuhe provides medical assistance to the epileptic Pharoah, Akhnaton (Michael Wilding), who, meanwhile, becomes convinced that only one god exists, and thus infuriates all of his polytheistic priests, who secretly plot to assassinate him. Sinuhe has an affair with a Babylonian whore, Nefer (Bella Darvi), but grows listless with her and eventually ends the relationship, harkening back to Merit. However, she is soon extinguished, with an arrow through the heart, for also being monotheistic. Angered by this, and believing Akhnaton's ideas directly responsible for Merit's death, Sinuhe and his muscular friend, the affable Horemheb (screen heartthrob Victor Mature) poison the Pharoah. Akhnaton then dies while Horemheb prepares to ascend to the throne. Ingmar Bergman had a point when he admonished the idea of falling for one's lead actress, and it is a lesson one wishes producer Daryl Zanuck had learned; he purportedly had an extramarital affair with Darvi, taking her as a "plaything," but grew sick of her after casting her in seven films. Her career then torpedoed. (Little wonder - her horrendous performance in this film must be seen to be believed; Variety called it "less than believable or skilled.") This $4.2 million film (a massive amount for 1954) suffered from additional production problems as well, with Marlon Brando originally slated to star, but replaced, at the very last minute, by Purdom, a contract player for 20th Century-Fox. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Leon Shamroy Best Color Cinematography 1954 Nominee


Edmund Purdom
as Sinuhe, the Egyptian
Jean Simmons
as Merit
Victor Mature
as Horemheb
Gene Tierney
as Baketamon, the Pharoah's sister
Michael Wilding, Sr.
as Akhnaton
Peter Ustinov
as Kaptah
Judith Evelyn
as Taia, the Queen Mother
Henry Daniell
as Mekere, the High Priest
John Carradine
as Grave robber
Carl Benton Reid
as Senmut
Tommy Rettig
as Thoth
Donna Martell
as Lady in Waiting
Mimi Gibson
as Princess
George Melford
as Priest
Lawrence Ryle
as Priest
Ian MacDonald
as Ship's Captain
Michael Granger
as Officer
Don Blackman
as Nubian Prince
Joan Winfield
as Governess
Mike Mazurki
as Death House Foreman
Angela Clarke
as Kipa
Tyler MacDuff
as Cadet
Paul Salata
as Egyptian Official
Anitra Stevens
as Nefertiti
Michael Ansara
as Hittite Commander
Edmund Cobb
as Patient in Dispensary
Carmen de Lavallade
as Egyptian Dancer
Tyler MacDuff
as Cadet
Paul Salata
as Egyptian Official
Edmund Cobb
as Patient in Dispensary
Angela Clarke
as Kipa
Michael Ansara
as Hittite Commander
Anitra Stevens
as Nefertiti


Michael Curtiz
Darryl F. Zanuck
Casey Robinson
Mika Waltari
Book Author
Philip Dunne
Leon Shamroy
Bernard Herrmann
Composer (Music Score)
Alfred Newman
Composer (Music Score)
Lyle Wheeler
Art Director
George W. Davis
Art Director
Walter Scott
Set Designer
Charles LeMaire
Costume Designer
Roger Heman
Sound/Sound Designer
Alfred Bruzlin
Sound/Sound Designer
William Eckhardt
First Assistant Director
Stephen Papich