A Continental Company Ltd Production
LAND OF THE PHARAOHS
JAMES ROBERTSON JUSTICE
Assistant Director - Paul Helmick Director of Photography - Lee Garmes A.S.C & Russell Harlan A.S.C
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin Art Director - Alexandre Trauner Associate Producer - Arthur Siteman
Written by William Faulkner & Harry Kurnitz & Harold Jack Bloom Edited by V.Sagovsky
Produced by Howard Hawks Directed by Howard Hawks
With a cast of thousands, ( 9,787 extras in one scene!), this was Joan's first big budget film, directed by Hollywood heavyweight director Howard Hawks.Joan had gone to Paris to do a screen test for a film called "My Kingdom For A Woman", where she met Hawks in the bar of the George V hotel. Although she did not get the role, her meeting with Hawks must have made an impression on him as he summoned her to Rome to star as the scheming Princess Nellifer. Joan was appearing at the Q theatre in London with Donald Houston in "Claudia & David", where after her last performance, she literally left the theatre and rushed home to gather her belongings to fly to Rome. Hawks had originally cast an actress who was also a model called Ivy Nicholson, but she was becoming too demanding for Hawks, who had no alternative but to fire her! The film was shot in various locations in Egypt, in Luxor, Giza and the Valley of the Kings, with interiors at Rome's, Titanus studios. However Joan's scenes were shot in Rome, where she grew to love it's various restaurants, shops and the night life! It also had the attraction of a certain Sydney Chaplin, son of the legendary Charlie, whom she had begun an affair with. Joan was still married to Maxwell Reed, but she was anxious to get a divorce, but she had to wait until the marriage had ran a course of three years, before she could apply. Chaplin had just finished an affair with another British star, Kay Kendall. Joan and Sydney spent three months on the film set by day, whilst sampling a bit too much of the Roman food and drink by night. As Joan's costumes were more than revealing, she started to gain weight, with all the pasta dinners they enjoyed. The most famous
NEW YORK TIMES....
" The grandeur, imperial power and glory of ancient Egypt, seems to have captivated director Howard Hawks."Land of the Pharaoh's", revealed yesterday in vivid hues and the logically vast dimensions of Cinemascope, has scenes as spectacularly panoramic as any since Cecil B De-Mille began fashioning variations on the old testament. But while it is impressively sweeping in the eye filling pageantry, this saga of the building of a colossal pyramid 5,000 years ago is staged on the creaky foundations of a tale of palace intrigue, that must have been banal even in the first Dynasty! Mr Hawks in short, is more passionate about the archaeological aspects, rather than stirring inventive drama. There is little distinction in the performances of the principals.
Jack Hawkins is merely a grim autocrat driven by selfishness and anxiety, to force his minions to work on a stupendous project!
Joan Collins as the ill-fated princess is a torrid baggage, in filmy costumes, who obviously is equipped to turn potentates head. Her acting never does!
In journeying to Egypt, Hawks has managed to re-create in fascinating style, a part of the large picture of antiquity. His story is merely ancient!"
Howard Hawks did return to Hollywood and made the now classic western "Rio Bravo". Joan, however had sealed her fate as a Hollywood star, as Twentieth Century Fox mogul, Daryl Zanuck saw the rushes of "Pharaoh's" and was eager to buy her from The Rank Organisation, by offering her a contract with Fox. Although "Land of the Pharaoh's" was a flop in it's day, it has since become a cult favourite and it is an enjoyable slice of biblical hokum, with Joan looking stunning as the scheming Princess Nellifer and wonderful locations and a cast of thousands, what more do you want!
(c) 2010 Mark Mc Morrow...