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Land of the Pharaohs

Directed by Howard Hawks.
With Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins, Dewey Martin.
US, 1955, 35mm, color, 106 min.
Print source: HFA

The most radical departure from the more familiar genre territories explored by Hawks is his ill-fated tale of ancient Egypt—a saga of hubris, greed and obsession with the afterlife—that was also the director’s first and only major box-office bomb. Over time, Land of the Pharaohs has earned a place as a beloved and much-admired cult film and as proof of the auteurist theory that even the most seemingly outlier films are essential to a filmmaker’s oeuvre. In this case, the film provides the typical Hawksian balance between thrilling action spectacle—especially the construction of the pharaoh’s tomb and gripping sequences with poisonous vipers—and intimate romantic rivalries, with a young Joan Collins casting a particularly bewitching spell as a Cypresian princess determined to charm her way into the heart of the pharaoh and his secret treasure trove.

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