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A Review of

Land of the Pharaohs

starring Joan Collins and Jack Hawkins


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Overall Rating: StarStarStar (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)

This 1955 costume drama produced by Howard Hawks is set in the era of Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, whom many historians believe commissioned the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza to serve as his tomb. (Although no tangible evidence has ever been found to prove that the pyramid was indeed intended for that purpose.) At the beginning of the movie, the greedy Khufu (portrayed by Jack Hawkins) recruits the architect behind the cunning defenses of Kush to design his tomb, so the building of the Great Pyramid remains one of the major story lines throughout. Khufu takes the beautiful Nellifer (played by Joan Collins), daughter of the king of Cyprus, as his ambitious, scheming second wife. Land of the Pharaohs DVD Cover


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What Users Think

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Fact Sheet

Subject Matter Greed, Pharaonic tomb-building, and scheming in ancient Egypt
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Year Released 1955
Star(s) Joan Collins and Jack Hawkins
Dancer(s) None
Total Length 104 minutes
Time Devoted to Dance Scenes None


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The centerpiece of this movie consists of the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza, which many scholars have attributed to the Pharaoh Khufu. As the movie opens, Khufu's forces have just defeated the city of Kush in battle and made slaves of the Kushites. Impressed by their cunning defenses, Khufu (portrayed by Jack Hawkins) recruits the architect who designed them (portrayed by James Robertson Justice) to be the designer of his tomb, with the promise that when the tomb is complete all the Kushites except the architect himself will be granted their freedom. The architect will be killed to protect the secret of the tomb's defenses.

As construction of the pyramid progresses, Khufu becomes obsessed with amassing wealth for use both in this world and the next. He levies heavy tribute on the nations he has conquered. The king of Cyprus sends his daughter Nellifer (portrayed by Joan Collins) as his tribute. Nellifer becomes Khufu's second wife, and quickly becomes a favorite. She too becomes obsessed with the wealth Khufu is accumulating, and begins her own schemes to acquire wealth and power. She targets both the Pharaoh himself and his first wife with her plots.

The plot is not the most riveting one I've ever seen, but it offers a relaxing bit of entertainment. Generally speaking, the casting is well-chosen, and I enjoy watching Joan Collins in one of her early movie roles carrying on the same scheming and machinations that made her famous in the television show Dynasty decades later. For me, the biggest appeal of this picture is the lavish scope of the production, with thousands of extras, detailed sets portraying the inside of the pyramid being built and its mechanisms, and the general feast for the eyes. There are a couple of enjoyable plot twists. It's not great fiction, but it's not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.


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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Movie If

  • You would enjoy a sumptuous costume drama set in ancient Egypt.
  • You're a fan of either Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins, or James Robertson Justice and you would enjoy seeing a movie featuring one of these performers.
  • You enjoy plots centered on greed, scheming, and deception.

This Movie Probably Isn't Right for You If

  • You're looking for compelling plot and character development.
  • You're seeking movies with dance scenes.


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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • The overall lavish sets and feast for the eyes.
  • Sumptuous costuming.
  • The scheming by Nellifer (Joan Collins' character).
  • The cast of thousands.

What I Didn't Like:

  • Predictability of the plot.
  • Pharaoh's one-dimensional character.
  • The story drags a bit at times.


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In Conclusion

When it comes to lavish productions, this movie offers a visual feast that's enjoyable to watch just for the sake of the spectacle. As a costume drama set in ancient Egypt, it holds my interest from beginning to end, but it's not the kind of movie I would go back and watch frequently. The plot is not particularly compelling, but it does have a few twists that make me smile, and the casting is well-chosen, especially Joan Collins.


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There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anyone involved in making this movie.


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Where to Get It

Via Amazon Stores

VHS edition: U.S. Canada

DVD edition: U.S. Canada U.K.


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