The Egyptian on DVD?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DonJLong, Jun 18, 2003.

  1. DonJLong

    DonJLong Auditioning

    Jun 17, 2003
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    The Egyptian on DVD?
    The following posts are reprinted verbatim from the Bernard Herrmann Forum for the benefit of this wider audience.
    17 Jun 2003, 10:55 GMT
    From: Don J. Long aka:
    Member, [email protected]
    Bernard Herrmann Forum
    Posts: 58
    From: San Jose, California, USA

    I have heard a rumor that The EGYPTIAN (Fox, 1954) is being released on DVD this summer. I've looked on the web and haven't found any evidence, but a few clues. Then I looked on ebay and found (2) all-region DVDs of this movie for auction in wide-screen format, which appear to have been manufactured in the UK. However, they may be either private bootlegs or industry boots for marketing. I checked Fox Home Entertainment and couldn't even find a listing for the VHS pan-and-scan version, so maybe that one is out of print now. Anyone have any more clues? This is probably number 1 on my list of movies I'd like to have on DVD. Cheers, Don

    17 Jun 2003, 13:19 GMT
    Doug Raynes
    Member, [email protected]
    Posts: 14
    From: United Kingdom

    The all-region THE EGYPTIAN is a Hong Kong bootleg which seems to have been sourced from the [out-of-print] Laser Disc. Picture quality is not too good but at least it is in stereo. I too would very much like to see a legitimate issue of this film on DVD but I've not heard any rumours that it is due for release any time soon.

    As you can read from the above two posts, I just discovered that the few available DVD copies available on the internet of this movie are bootlegs from Hong Kong, and there is still no firm release date from Fox Video for the authorized DVD of "The Egyptian". However, this situation will not last long, because the original novel by Mika Waltari has just been reprinted in a beautiful new hardbound edition for the first time since the movie edition of 1954! And if we as a group petition Fox Video, at least our voices will be heard, for I know there is already a powerful lobby of classic film lovers who are doing the same thing.
    I am a major fan of the music of the classic film composers Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann, who did a magnificent job scoring nearly 100 minutes of music for the film, of which now only 70 minutes remain from the original 4-track magnetic Stereo 35mm soundtrack 'stem' tapes. The film was one of the first Stereophonic and wide-screen CinemaScope motion pictures ever made, at a cost of $6 Million dollars in 1954, a huge sum in those days when the average movie cost less than half a million dollars to produce.
    The film features glorious production values, lavish sets, props and costumes, with a few spectacular matte paintings for grandiose views of the ancient wonders of Egypt, a fine cast of stars, an excellent music score, taut, firm direction from celebrated Hungarian director Michael Curtiz (CASABLANCA) and a thoughtful, well-written script by veterans Philip Dunne and Casey Robinson. The movie also was given the fine support of a technical consultant, Egyptologist Dr. Elizabeth Reifstahl to make the film resonate with the New Kingdom era of 18th Dynasty Egypt circa 1350 B.C. Most of the many costumes are authentic to the era, except for some ridiculous soldiers' costumes in brown and orange stripes which look like something from a ludicrous silent picture, and rugged Victor Mature's Horemheb looking too much like a Greek or Roman in body armor instead of an ancient Egyptian.
    Yes, I know the film is not without its flaws, most notably the glaring omission of the lives and reigns of every Pharaoh and Prince from SmenkhkaRa to the usurper Horemheb, played by Victor Mature in the movie. This sin of omission was not due to the writer of the original 1949 novel, Finnish author Mika Waltari, but rather due to budget-trimming at Fox by order of Executive Producer Darryl F. Zanuck: (quote) "I want WIDTH, not DEPTH!" Zanuck then ordered one whole half hour trimmed from the film, which was originally supposed to be 3 hours long. Sadly, these scenes and script pages were never filmed, so there is no "lost footage". Thanks, DFZ. I suppose we still must thank him anyway for the picture we received from Fox, released in August 1954. If it hadn't been for his impetuous playboy romance with a Hungarian-Polish starlet named Bella Darvi, we may not have seen the picture as it was released, for he was not above throwing away millions of dollars on impetuous projects like this one. The film undoubtedly showcases Bella Darvi's seductive charms as the Babylonian harlot 'Nefer', as well as Darvi's finest performance ever captured on film. Darvi was discovered in bed with him by Zanuck's wife, and banished from the Fox lot, which cost her the career Zanuck had promised her. A compulsive drinker and gambler at Monte Carlo, using men to support her habits, Darvi eventually allowed her vices to destroy her, and she ended up a suicide in 1971, literally fulfilling the role she had played on the screen with such vampish success.
    Of course the movie would not have been the dramatic success it has become without the starring role of talented British actor Edmund Purdom as Sinuhe, 'the Egyptian' of the title. Purdom's serious, thoughtful portrayal of the ancient Egyptian physician was incredibly moving and captivating, in spite of some critics' sniping that he was too soft-spoken to be taken seriously. Also in spite of the fact that Darryl F. Zanuck wanted to cast Marlon Brando or Paul Newman in the role, which in retrospect would have been a mistake. Purdom also co-starred with Lana Turner in MGM's epic "The PRODIGAL" in 1955.
    Jean Simmons is marvelous in the film, as she always was in anything she did, as Merit, the tavern maid who loved him. However, besides Victor Mature chewing up the scenery as the brash, offensive militant General Horemheb, we have Gene Tierney as the lusty, self-willed Princess Baketamon in an early feminist role we find irresistible; and Judith Evelyn also steals the show as the dowager Queen Tiye, mother of King Akhenaten and wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. She is lustful, prideful and exudes an air of swaggering power as she swigs down her beer from an alabaster goblet in true regal style.
    I wish to encourage you all to see the classic epic movie "The EGYPTIAN" (Fox, 1954) and by all means to purchase it on video. It is already available on VHS, but not in CinemaScope wide screen.
    I would love to see it released on Fox Wide Screen Stereo DVD sometime soon, perhaps for its 50th Anniversary next year. The reverent, spiritual performance of British actor Michael Wilding as the first monotheist in history, Pharaoh Akhenaten, who believed in only one God, Aten, is worth the entire movie. His costume is quite close to the real Royal linen and gold, superbly crafted for the film.
    Unfortunately, the actress cast as Nefertiti in the film cannot act, and is as wooden as an ancient Egyptian doll, but she is beautiful as a model and gives you a good idea what the real Royal Lady Nefertiti actually looked like in real life.

    The film is a metaphysical treatise on film of Mankind's quest for the Eternal Truth, actually quite profound, and completely out of step with the usual "Sword and Sandal" epics of the 1950s with their focus on the routine love story and clash of wills between cultures.

    Also, I encourage you to get the excellent soundtrack album on CD by Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann, and try to locate copies of the original LP record album version as well (since there is one track only to be found on the LP version, "The Lotus Pool" with vocal soloist Doreen Tryden which is missing from two of the three CD versions of the soundtrack). This music totally resonates with the energy of ancient Egypt. It has a vocal chorus abbreviated version of part of Akhenaten's Hymn to Aten, titled "O Aten, How Beautiful Art Thou". You will not be disappointed!
    A footnote:
    Purdom is still alive and well and has lived for the past 30 years or so in an Italian-style villa in Rome, Italy where he was a busy executive for RCA Italia Records. Recently, he narrated a video documentary titled "7 SIGNS OF CHRIST'S RETURN", a look at Bible prophecy as it relates to the future Second Coming of Christ. A former Roman Catholic, Purdom is now a protestant Christian. Perhaps life has answered the questions he asked as Sinuhe.

    Review by Donald John Long, 2001
    The Egyptian on DVD? The Egyptian on DVD?
  2. amicus11

    amicus11 Auditioning

    Jul 20, 2011
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    THE EGYPTIAN (1954) is FINALLY available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Screen Archives: Produced from a digitally restored master of the film - licensed to Twilight Time DVD by 20th Century Fox - the film on DVD and Blu-Ray is a limited edition of 3,000 units each, distributed exclusively through Screen Archives. Special features include: Audio Commentary: Film historians Alain Silver and James Ursini provide an interesting feature length commentary regarding events behind the scenes in production of the film. Isolated Music Track: The film score composed by Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann is presented in all its glory in DTS-HD 2.0 stereo. Theatrical Trailer (2:51): The original trailer for The Egyptian is unrestored and window-boxed in standard definition. Also included is an illustrated booklet with a fascinating article about production of The Egyptian written by Julie Kirgo. Language: English Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (2.55:1) Enhanced for 16 x 9 Audio: Stereo (5.1 Surround for Blu-ray) NTSC 1954 / Color 139 MINUTES

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