Land of the Pharaohs
"Nobody knew how a Pharaoh talked!" That's how producer/director Howard Hawks explained some of the sillier dialogue exchanges in the William Faulkner-Harry Kurnitz-Harold Jack Bloom script for Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs. Extravagantly produced with a cast of seeming millions (actually there were some 10,000 extras), the film speculates on the circumstances surrounding the construction of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Jack Hawkins plays the Pharaoh, who orders enslaved architect James Robertson Justice to build a magnificent, thief-proof tomb for him. At first, the people of Egypt willingly pitch in to construct the huge pyramid. But as the years roll by and the work shows no signs of abating, the Pharaoh begins relying upon forced labor from lands he has conquered. He also plunders the coffers of his neighboring countries. Cyprus can't pony up the necessary gold, so the country sends luscious Joan Collins (complete with a jewel in her navel) as a "present" for the Pharaoh. Fascinated by the spitfire Collins, the Pharaoh makes her his second wife. What he doesn't know is that Collins is just as much a predator as she would be in the TV series Dynasty. Hoping to gain all of the Pharaoh's kingdom and the riches therein, she stage-manages her husband's death. After the funeral procession, the Pharaoh is sealed in his tomb by a series of sand-operated weights, levers and pulleys (this speculation as to how the Pyramids were closed is the most fascinating part of the film). Collins watches in barely controlled glee; she isn't yet privy to the Egyptian custom of entombing the Pharaoh's widow alive, along with her husband's body--but she soon will be.