Share

Watch It

On DVD: TBD | On Blu-ray: Now

The Ten Commandments Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

Cecil B. DeMille's first screen version of The Ten Commandments is only peripherally a Biblical story. The film's first 45 minutes recaps the struggle between Moses (Theodore Roberts) and Rameses (Charles de Roche) over the liberation of the Hebrews. Only after the Lord has imposed a series of plagues upon Egypt does Rameses relent and permit the Exodus to take place--only to go back on his word a few moments later. The scenes of thousands of Hebrews trekking across the desert, the parting of the Red Sea (an effect accomplished in part by splitting a bowl of gelatin down the middle) and the pre-Commandments revelries before the Golden Calf--complete with a fetchingly undressed Estelle Taylor as Miriam--are produced on a spectacular scale...but this is only the beginning. Just as Moses is invoking the Wrath of God upon the ungrateful Hebrews, the film dissolves to the present day (1923, that is). We are introduced to the MacTavish Family: pious, Bible-thumping Martha McTavish (Edythe Chapman) and her sons, straight-arrow John (Richard Dix) and hedonistic Dan (Rod LaRocque). Both sons love Mary Leigh (Leatrice Joy), but the roguish Dan wins out. While John continues honoring the Ten Commandments, Dan breaks as many as he can get his hands on, especially after falling under the spell of Eurasian adventuress Sally Lung (Nita Naldi). Before the uplifting climax, wherein John and Mary finally get together with (it is implied) the blessings of Heaven, we are treated to a series of disastrous plot turns, including the death of mother McTavish in a collapsing church, Sally Lung's revelation that she has leprosy, and a wild speedboat chase. All that's missing is the kitchen sink. Partially filmed in Technicolor at a then-astronomical cost of $1.2 million (a sum that caused a decade-long rift between Cecil B. DeMille and Paramount Pictures), The Ten Commandments grossed several times that amount. DeMille's 1956 Ten Commandments dispenses with the modern story to concentrate on the life of Moses. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

Theodore Roberts
as Moses
Estelle Taylor
as Miriam, sister of Moses
Julia Faye
as Pharaoh's Wife
Richard Dix
as John McTavish
Rod La Rocque
as Dan McTavish
Edythe Chapman
as Mrs. Martha McTavish
James Neill
as Aaron, Brother of Moses
Lawson Butt
as Dathan
Clarence Burton
as The Taskmaster
Noble Johnson
as The Bronze Man
Leatrice Joy
as Mary Leigh
Robert Edeson
as Redding, an Inspector
Charles Ogle
as The Doctor
Agnes Ayres
as The Outcast
Wilson Benge

Crew

Cecil B. DeMille
Director
Cecil B. DeMille
Producer
Jeannie Macpherson
Screenwriter
J. Peverell Marley
Cinematographer
Ray Rennahan
Cinematographer
Bert Glennon
Cinematographer
Anne Bauchens
Editor
Claire West
Costume Designer
Advertisement