***½/**** Image A Sound A- Extras B+
starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G Robinson
screenplay by Æneas MacKenzie, Jesse L. Lasky, Jr., Jack Gariss, Fredric M. Frank, in accordance with the ancient texts of Philo, Josephus, Eusebius, the Midrash, and the Holy Scriptures
directed by Cecil B. De Mille
by Bill Chambers A harbinger of the pageantry to come, Cecil B. De Mille's 1956 The Ten Commandments begins with a pair of ornate drapes. De Mille himself emerges from behind them and steps up to a microphone. Back then, this would've had an uncanny effect on filmgoers, who were used to seeing curtains shield the silver screen from view until the lights went down. (To my recollection, curtains went the way of the dodo in the late-'80s, when they were deemed impractical by the new cookie-cutter multiplexes that would drive the traditional movie palace to extinction.) De Mille, then a name synonymous with "director" to the American public, proceeds to all but invent William Castle as he introduces The Gimmick: What you are about to see will fill in all the gaps in the biblical account of Moses, thanks to an investigative technique seldom used in Hollywood known as research. Well, not all of the gaps: kid Moses and teen Moses, who was surely elected Prom King in De Mille's imagination, still get the short-shrift.