Land of the Pharaohs (1955)



Director:     Howard Hawks

Starring:     Jack Hawkins (Pharaoh Cheops), Joan Collins (Princess Nellifer), Dewey Martin (Senta), Alex Minotis (Hamar), James Robertson Justice (Vashtar), Luisella Boni (Kyra), Sydney Chaplin (Treneh), James Hayter (Vashtar's servant), Kerima (Nailla), Piero Giagnoni (Xenon, Pharaoh's son)

building of the Pharaoh's tomb



Pharaoh Khufu (Jack Hawkins) is clinically "obsessed" with collecting as much gold as possible to take with him to his "second life."  He builds the Great Pyramid of Giza with Vashtar (a enslaved engineer) as the actual builder.  Vashtar's people, enslaved in Egypt, are used to provide the forced labor.  The Pharaoh promises that if a robbery-proof tomb is built, he will grant Vashtar's people their freedom.

As the Great Pyramid is constructed, Pharaoh takes a Cyprian princess (20 year old Joan Collins) as his second wife.  The second wife, however, is more interested in dispensing with the Pharaoh and grabbing his gold than matrimony. She starts plotting a couple of schemes to eliminate her competitors and then the Pharaoh himself. 

Will this prevent the fulfillment of Vashtar's hope that his people be set free from ever becoming true? 

This a B movie, but it is not all that bad.  The British actor Jack Hawkins sure doesn't look like an Egyptian to me. But he is mean and ruthless.  Joan Collins is very good looking as Princess Nellifer and has a darker skin tone.  The movie does give one some idea of the torture and pain required to build the pyramids.  No wonder they built the cemetery along with the town for the workers.   

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.  


Historical Background:


2589-2566 B.C.  --  the reign of Pharaoh Khufu (known in Greek as Cheops), second of the pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty. According to folklore he was a cruel and ruthless ruler. 

Khufuís senior wife was named Merityotes.  In all, he had three wives.  He had several sons.  One of them, Djedefra, was his successor.  He had a daughter, Queen Hetepheres II. 

2560 B.C.  --  Pharaoh Khufu had the Great Pyramid of Giza built as his tomb. His vizier, Hemiunu, is credited as the architect.  It took 20 years to build.  It originally was 418 feet high.

The Great Pyramid is the largest of three in the Giza Necropolis, bordering today's Cairo, Egypt.  One of the smaller pyramids is the tomb of Hetepheres, the mother of Khufu. 

With the building of the Great Pyramid, a town for the workers was built complete with cemetery.  The town had bakeries, a beer factory and a copper smelting complex.

Khufu sent expeditions to the Sinai and worked the stone quarries deep in the Nubian desert.


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