Land of the Pharaohs


This fortnight’s edition of The Forgotten, available now at MUBI’s Notebook, came about through my recent visit to Richard Lester, who happened to reminisce about his experiences as a juror at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival. Amid the horse-trading, politics, attempted corruption and last-minute decisions before lunch which decided the future of cinema, the opening sequence of one particular film stuck in his mind…

18 Responses to “Land of the Pharaohs”

  1. david wingrove Says:

    Nobody believes me when I sway the best-ever Ancient Egypt movie was made in Poland! But it does borrow quite a bit from Hawks’s wonderful LAND OF THE PHARAOHS…

  2. Their only mistake was in not entombing Joan Collins alive again. A good way to end any picture.

  3. I’m fascinated by the Cannes story Lester tells to Soderbergh but also interested in his issues with Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight and how he and Peter Ustinov agreed it shouldn’t be awarded the prize. It’s puzzling because,to me, the film is a complete masterpiece., the best film of most years. I’d love to understand his problems with it. It uses heavy dubbing but so do Lester’s own films.

    It’s also interesting to me because almost 10 years later Lester made his own film about the end of Merrie England, and the lies of Chivalry and also did so in Spain. And it is very different

  4. The difference is probably a clue to why he didn’t appreciate Chimes that much. I disagree, but wasn’t about to get into an argument about it… I guess the prize went to two films that year because the jury were so implacably divided. I did hear a bunch more behind-the-scenes stuff about that festival and the ’68 one, but I’m unsure how much of it I’m at liberty to divulge…

  5. Ancient Egypt has always meant one thing to me JOAN COLLINS!

  6. Of course I’ve never gone along with the story that her performance in that Hawks classic was based on her actual Ancient Egyptian experiences, but she IS “remarkably well-preserved.” A friend of mine lives in the same building she does here in LA. sees her almost every day. She’s always cordial, but whenever she notices another carbon-based life-form approaching Joan immediately dons her sunglasses. Even in the dark.

  7. Once had the sort-of pleasure of working with Brit veteran Stratford Johns, who remembered the Collins sisters from their pre-fame youth. His remarks were not exactly gallant, but one gathered that they had reinvented themselves considerably since their days as cockney sparrows.

  8. Oh I love Statford Johns, particularly in his Ken Russell roles. His bulging plumminess seemed to fit in well in that envoroment and he holds his own against Glenda Jackson in Salome. In Lair he does the classic British actor thing of making the most of every moment in a thankless butler role (see also Denholm Elliot in Trading Places “EGGNOG?”
    I’m sorry he was only a sort-of-pleasure. Wasn’t he very ill the last years of his life?

  9. He was able-bodied enough when I met him, twenty years ago. And he was very nice to us (a bunch of film students hiring him for pennies) but rather intolerant of his co-star. Still, I found him fascinating and exotic — a real old-school actor.

    I’d forgotten about the Shirley Jones book fuss. I can certainly believe Tony Newley as a swinger, it’s kind of the role he was born for.

  10. But returning to Ancient Egyptian, leave us not forget that Elizabeth Taylor wasn’t the first choice for this epic di tutti epics.

  11. We watched Cleo recently, and quite enjoyed it! The “making of” is a better story than the film, though.

  12. And he best account of its making is “The Cleopatra Papers” by Jack Brodsky and Nathaniel Weiss.

  13. JohnnyQuick Says:

    Faraon is available wholly on Youtube here (Officially?. It is certainly a good quality upload, so it may be official.) Also, if you don’t speak Polish, pressing the Closed Captioning (CC) button on the lower right seems to bring up a very accurate translation.

    Youtube seems to think it’s 2 hrs, 25 min though. I haven’t gotten to the end, but it is indeed visually striking.

  14. That whole video channel looks interesting…

    I’ll watch out for The Cleo Papers!

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