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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review of

Valley of the Kings

 

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Summary

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

In this 1954 movie, the daughter of a now-deceased archaeologist carries on her father's search for a tomb that she hopes will contain information proving the Biblical story of Joseph. The movie is part romance, part adventure, and part intrigue. Egyptian dance legend Samia Gamal makes a guest appearance in a brief dance performance.

I would normally give this movie 3 stars for the plot and characterization. However, because the producers have done an excellent job of capturing the flavor of Egypt with Samia's performance, people playing Egyptian instruments such as rebaba and tabla, and a man doing a stick dance, it deserves an extra star for combining a pleasant story with a faithful view of what Egypt really would have looked like in the 1950's.

Valley of the Kings VHS Tape Cover

 

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What Shira.net Users Think

 
1) How would you rate Valley of the Kings?
Absolutely fantastic!
Definitely would recommend it.
Good enough to be worth the money, but not special
Disappointing, but had at least a little value
Nothing good about it at all
 

The above poll includes responses submitted since February 1, 2003.

 

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Fact Sheet

Subject Matter An archeologist's quest for answers
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Year Released 1954
Star(s) Eleanor Parker and Robert Taylor
Dancer(s) Samia Gamal
Total Length 88 minutes
Time Devoted to Dance Scenes 44 seconds

 

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Description

This movie was inspired by a book titled Gods, Graves, & Scholars by C. W. Ceram (which I have not read). Set in Egypt in 1900, it begins when Ann Mercedes (played by Eleanor Parker) hires archaeologist Mark Brandon (played by Robert Taylor) to assist with her archaeological quest. She wishes to continue a search begun by her late archaeologist father for documented proof confirming the Biblical story of Joseph. Together with her husband Philip, they attempt to trace the origin of artifacts believed to have come from the never-discovered tomb of the Pharaoh Rahotep, whom they think may have been the Pharaoh that Joseph had served.

The quest takes them first to a monastery in the Sinai desert, retracing the path of the Exodus, then south to the Valley of the Kings in Upper Egypt, where they believe the tomb to be.

On her way to a rendezvous with an antiquities dealer who may have helpful information, Ann pauses to watch an Oriental dance performance, portrayed by legendary Egyptian dancer Samia Gamal. The brief glimpse of Samia's dancing is disappointingly short, but it's delightful to see that the producers of this film indeed tried to capture a legitimate taste of Egyptian culture.

Ann and her companions discover that their quest has its dangers, but through their detective work and surviving certain dangers, they naturally arrive at a (mostly) happy ending.

The plot is pleasant but not particularly compelling, and the character development is a bit shallow. All costuming reflects the styles of the 1950's rather than 1900 when the story supposedly takes place, including Ann and her companions, so the movie has a slight inconsistency there, but it doesn't really bother me. The Egyptian scenery on location is a sumptuous feast for the eyes, and the use of genuine local music, dance, and clothing for the locals is welcome.

 

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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Movie If

  • You would enjoy a movie whose story centers on archaeology in Egypt around 1900.
  • You enjoy movies from the 1950's.
  • You would enjoy seeing a movie set among the ancient structures of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.
  • You're so enthusiastic about Samia Gamal that even a very brief dance performance by her lasting less than a minute would please you.
  • You're enthusiastic about the work of Robert Taylor, Eleanor Parker, or Carlos Thompson and you would enjoy a movie starring one of these people.

This Movie Probably Isn't Right for You If

  • You've heard Samia Gamal appeared in this movie and you're expecting her to either have a significant role or do a full-length performance. (You'll be disappointed.)
  • You're not particularly fond of 1950's era movies.
  • You expect compelling plot lines and thoughtful character development.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • The scenes featuring locals use appropriate music and clothing, showing local musical instruments such as rebaba and tabla.
  • The story line is reasonably pleasant, with some romance and adventure.
  • In one scene, a man does a credible Saidi stick dance.

What I Didn't Like:

  • I'm disappointed at how brief Samia Gamal's Oriental dance performance is.
  • At times, the plot is too predictable.
  • The plot has several gaps in it that are never explained, and periodically introduces irrelevant plot elements. For example, at one point a scorpion stings someone, but this does not advance the plot in any useful way.

 

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In Conclusion

This movie is a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half, but it's not the kind of favorite I would watch over and over. The story line is somewhat interesting, but not compelling. I was a little disappointed with how short Samia Gamal's dance performance was, but I enjoyed the little bit that was included. This is a rare Hollywood movie that makes some attempt to portray local people in culturally-accurate local situations, such as playing music on traditional instruments and doing local dance forms like stick dance, so I appreciated that effort by the producers to capture the true local flavor.

 

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Disclosure

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

 

 

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