Long and tedious, this lavishly mounted spectacle lost a great deal of money. Brando was penciled in to play the lead but bowed out and Fox contract player Edmund Purdom moved into the role. Darryl Zanuck was allegedly having an affair with Bella Darvi (her name, in fact, was a combination
of his and his wife's, Virginia) and wanted her to be presented in a spectacular fashion. Purdom is a healer in pre-Christian times; Ustinov is his servant. Simmons is a tavern waitress who loves Purdom and would like to marry him. Wilding is an epileptic Pharaoh who espouses the theory of one God
and whose priests rankle at this notion and plan to assassinate him. While attending to the Pharaoh, Purdom meets the Babylonian whore, Darvi, and has a brief affair with her. He is soon bored with her (as was Zanuck; she appeared in only seven films), and returns to Simmons, who is later killed
for also being monotheistic. In the end, Purdom and Victor Mature, as the soldier who is to assume the mantle of leader after Wilding's death, play a tender scene as Wilding expires. It is in this film that Mature utters the not-quite-unforgettable line: "More wine, you waddling toad!" Gene
Tierney does a small bit as Purdom's half-sister, but she, like Judith Evelyn, is wasted. A big, big movie and a big, big bore. Darvi left the States and went to Europe, where she worked in a few films but finally, after three unsuccessful attempts, she took her own life in her Monaco apartment.
Born in Poland, her real name was Bayla Wegier. She had been a heavy gambler, and it was evidently gambling debts that drove her to suicide. Cinematographer Shamroy earned an Oscar nomination for his work here.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Long and tedious, this lavishly mounted spectacle lost a great deal of money. Brando was penciled in to play the lead but bowed out and Fox contract player Edmund Purdom moved into the role. Darryl Zanuck was allegedly having an affair with Bella Darvi (he… (more)