The Ten Commandments (1956)

Genres - Epic, Action  |   Sub-Genres - Religious Epic, Hagiography  |   Run Time - 219 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Richard Gilliam

The Ten Commandments was the final film in the five-decade career of legendary producer/director Cecil B. DeMille and, despite its flaws, it remains a primary example of combining high production values and epic scope for a box-office blockbuster. Expanded from one of the segments in DeMille's 1923 silent film of the same name (though not exactly a remake of that film as is often claimed - the earlier version took place mostly in modern times), it benefits greatly from Charlton Heston's star-making performance as Moses, and from a veteran supporting cast that includes Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, and Vincent Price. The acting, though, is secondary to DeMille's visually expansive storytelling. The production design has an appropriate sense of grandeur, and the parting of the Red Sea is among the most famous scenes in any film from the 1950s. DeMille's directing style is straightforward, maintaining a clean, brisk pace throughout the film's 220 minutes. The Ten Commandments was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, winning for John Fulton's special effects.