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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Things You May Not Have Known About "The Ten Commandments"

Okay, so I did say that for the most part, Easter Week would deal with the more modern celebrations of the holiday.  But today, I thought I would do a spotlight on a particular movie which talks about the religious part of the holiday.

It's a movie that is next slated to air on April 5, 2015 (tomorrow night) at 7:00pm EST on ABC. 

This is a movie that depicts the biblical story of the adopted Egyptian prince, Moses and how he leads the Exodus to Mount Sinai where he is given the Ten Commandments by God.  Directed by Cecil B. DeMille and released by Paramount Pictures in October 1956, the film boasted a who's who of what was then the Hollywood elite.  Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne DeCarlo, Edward G. Robinson, John Derek, and even Vincent Price all appeared in this film, which was the highest grossing film of 1956.

And "The Ten Commandments" has been an Easter tradition ever since.

Now, here's the deal.  I've never actually been able to sit through the whole film.  With a running length of almost four hours, I always manage to tune out before the end.  Don't get me wrong, I know about the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments, so I can pretty much figure out how this movie ends anyway.  But I always told myself that I would never do a film review on a movie that I have never completely watched.

And I'm not going to.

You see, with a movie that was the greatest film of 1956 and with four hours of footage, you can bet that this film has a lot of behind the scenes trivia, scandal, and secrets associated with it.

Would you like to find some of these secrets out?  I bet you would!

Here are some little known facts about the filming of "The Ten Commandments"

1 - Charlton Heston won the role of Moses after impressing Cecil B. DeMille with his knowledge of ancient Egypt.

2 - Heston's newborn son, Fraser, played the role of infant Moses.

3 - Though the film was nominated for several Academy Awards, it only won the one - for Best Special Effects.

4 - ABC has aired the film every year on Easter Sunday since 1973 - with one notable exception.  When the film was not shown in 1999, the network received thousands of calls from irate viewers who were upset that the film was not screened.

5 - One of the most remembered scenes in the movie was the orgy scene.  Apparently the filming for the scene was so brutal that Heston recalled one female extra asking "Who do I have to f@#$ to get out of this movie?!"

(Of course Marie Barone would exclaim that this is not Easter language, but she was yesterday's featured blog topic, so who cares, right?)


6 - Though the film is set entirely in Egypt - less than 5% was actually filmed there.

7 - Cecil B. DeMille had a heart attack while on the set of the movie and returned to filming two days later despite his doctor's advice that he take more time to recuperate.

8 - "The Ten Commandments" ended up being DeMille's last film project.  He died three years after production wrapped up.

9 - 14,000 extras were hired to appear in the film.

10 - More than 15,000 animals were used in the film.

11 - Egyptian authorities were more than happy to grant DeMille the right to film some scenes in Egypt.  After all, they were huge fans of "The Crusades" - another DeMille work.

12 - One of the greatest mysteries of the film was who provided the voice of God, as no actor was credited.  It was confirmed in 2004 that Heston did do the voice of God, but several other people were suspected as well, including Delos Jewkes and even DeMille himself.

13 - The red smoke in the Mount Sinai scene was a matted special effects superimposed over the real Mount Sinai filmed on location.

14 - The scene of the Red Sea parting was achieved by filming two large dump tanks that were flooded and then shown in reverse.  Gelatin was also used to give the illusion of sea water.

15 - Nina Foch played Moses' mother in the movie.  She was one year YOUNGER than Charlton Heston.

16 - Yul Brynner immediately began a vigorous weightlifting program upon being cast as Pharaoh Rameses II because he did not want to be physically overshadowed by Heston.  Plus, he spent a lot of the movie shirtless, so I suppose that was another reason behind it.

17 - DeMille celebrated his 75th birthday on the set of the movie, making him - at that time - the oldest working Hollywood director.

18 - The movie was NOT filmed in stereophonic sound.  In fact, it was one of the only Biblical films from the mid-1950s not to be.

19 - William Boyd was initially approached to star as Moses, but he turned the role down, fearing that playing "Hopalong Cassidy" for two years prior would hurt the film.

20 - The script was 308 pages long, and boasted a whopping seventy speaking parts!

21 - William Sapp was responsible for the special effects that turned the Nile bright red.  All that was needed was non-toxic red dye and a hose!

22 - Because Yul Brynner was starring in the Broadway production "The King and I" when he was given the part in "The Ten Commandments", he had to film all of his Egyptian scenes in one day!

23 - The role of Nefretiri was originally considered for Audrey Hepburn.

24 - It is rumoured that Fidel Castro was an extra in the film, but as of 2015, this cannot be confirmed, nor denied. 

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