The Ten Commandments (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Ten Commandments1956

The Ten Commandments (1956)



Critic Consensus: Bombastic and occasionally silly but extravagantly entertaining, Cecil B. DeMille's all-star spectacular is a muscular retelling of the great Bible story.

The Ten Commandments Photos

Movie Info

Based on the Holy Scriptures, with additional dialogue by several other hands, The Ten Commandments was the last film directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The story relates the life of Moses, from the time he was discovered in the bullrushes as an infant by the pharoah's daughter, to his long, hard struggle to free the Hebrews from their slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Moses (Charlton Heston) starts out "in solid" as Pharoah's adopted son (and a whiz at designing pyramids, dispensing such construction-site advice as "Blood makes poor mortar"), but when he discovers his true Hebrew heritage, he attempts to make life easier for his people. Banished by his jealous half-brother Rameses (Yul Brynner), Moses returns fully bearded to Pharoah's court, warning that he's had a message from God and that the Egyptians had better free the Hebrews post-haste if they know what's good for them. Only after the Deadly Plagues have decimated Egypt does Rameses give in. As the Hebrews reach the Red Sea, they discover that Rameses has gone back on his word and plans to have them all killed. But Moses rescues his people with a little Divine legerdemain by parting the Seas. Later, Moses is again confronted by God on Mt. Sinai, who delivers unto him the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, the Hebrews, led by the duplicitous Dathan (Edward G. Robinson), are forgetting their religion and behaving like libertines. "Where's your Moses now?" brays Dathan in the manner of a Lower East Side gangster. He soon finds out. DeMille's The Ten Commandments may not be the most subtle and sophisticated entertainment ever concocted, but it tells its story with a clarity and vitality that few Biblical scholars have ever been able to duplicate. It is very likely the most eventful 219 minutes ever recorded to film--and who's to say that Nefertiri (Anne Baxter) didn't make speeches like, "Oh, Moses, Moses, you splendid, stubborn, adorable fool"? ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Yul Brynner
as Rameses
Anne Baxter
as Nefretiri
John Derek
as Joshua
Nina Foch
as Bithiah
Martha Scott
as Yochabel
Lawrence Dobkin
as Hur Ben Caleb
H.B. Warner
as Amminadab
Julia Faye
as Elisheba
Lisa Mitchell
as Jethro's Daughter
Noelle Williams
as Jethro's Daughter
Joanna Merlin
as Jethro's Daughter
Pat Richard
as Jethro's Daughter
Joyce Vanderveen
as Jethro's Daughter
Diane Hall
as Jethro's Daughter
Abbas El Boughdadly
as Rameses' Charioteer
Fraser C. Heston
as Infant Moses
Eugene Mazzola
as Rameses' Son
John Miljan
as The Blind One
Tommy Duran
as Gershom
Ian Keith
as Rameses I
Joan Woodbury
as Korah's Wife
Woody Strode
as King of Ethiopia
Dorothy Adams
as Hebrew at Golden Calf/Hebrew Woman at Ramses' Gate
Eric Alden
as High-Ranking Officer/Taskmaster/Slave Man/Officer
Henry Brandon
as Commander of the Hosts
Mike Connors
as Amalekite Herder
Henry Corden
as Sheik of Ezion
Edna Mae Cooper
as Court Lady
Kem Dibbs
as Corporal
Abbas El Bougbdadly
as Rameses' Charioteer
Gail Kobe
as Pretty Slave Girl
John Merton
as Architect's Assistant
Mena Mohamed
as Architect's Assistant
Addison Richards
as Fan Bearer
Clint Walker
as Sardinian Captain
Luis Alberni
as Old Hebrew at Moses' House
Michael Ansara
as Taskmaster
Fred Coby
as Hebrew at Golden Calf/Taskmaster
Tony Dante
as Libyan Captain
Franklyn Farnum
as High Official
John Hart
as Cretan Ambassador
Ed Hinton
as Taskmaster/Flagman
Frank Lackteen
as Old Man Praying/Old Man in Granary/Hebrew at Datha
Emmett Lynn
as Old Slave Man/Hebrew at Golden Calf
Stanley Price
as Slave Carrying Load
Herb Alpert
as Drum Player
Esther Brown
as Princess Tharbis
Paul De Rolf
as Eleazar
Zeev Bufman
as Hebrew at Golden Calf
Kathy Garver
as Child Slave
George Melford
as Hebrew at Golden Calf, Nobleman
Jeane Wood
as Slave, Hebrew at Crag and Corridor, Hebrew at Golden Calf
Joel Ashley
as Taskmaster
George Baxter
as 2nd Wazir
Peter Coe
as Egyptian Soldier
Steve Darrell
as Man with Bedding
Gavin Gordon
as Trojan Ambassador
Kay Hammond
as Grease Woman
Peter Hanson
as Young Aide
Barry Macollum
as Slave, Hebrew at Golden Calf
Ken Dibbs
as Corporal
Franklin Farnum
as High Offical
Lisa Lee Mitchell
as Jethro's Daughter
Robert Vaughn
as Spearman/Hebrew at Golden Calf
Michael Connors
as Amalekite Herder
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Critic Reviews for The Ten Commandments

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (11)

It is all a grandly unrestrained act of regression to the infantile days of the cinema, which DeMille seems never to have outgrown.

November 16, 2021 | Full Review…

There is no other picture like it. There will be none. If it could be summed up in a word, the word would be sublime. And the man responsible for that, when all is said and done is Cecil B. DeMille.

April 7, 2015 | Full Review…

DeMille's direction of the action is superb and the various roles are played with feeling by a large and competent cast, headed by Charlton Heston.

December 10, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

It seems as if some films are perpetually being restored, with each new version touted as better than the last. That said, I can assure you that the new DVD and Blu-ray edition of...

April 21, 2011

With a running time of nearly four hours, Cecil B. De Mille's last feature and most extravagant blockbuster is full of the absurdities and vulgarities one expects, but it isn't boring for a minute.

March 4, 2008

DeMille remains conventional with the motion picture as an art form. The eyes of the onlooker are filled with spectacle. Emotional tug is sometimes lacking.

October 19, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Ten Commandments

Network television used to show this at least once a year, and always as AN EVENT. Cecil B. DeMille's swan song is a denunciation of the sinful life while gloriously wallowing in it. A big movie that has BIG implanted into it's very DNA, Hollywood style grandeur and fun, however over-the-top.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


In the 1950's, big, bold ambitious epics were the norm, The Ten Commandments being one of the most famous films of the era, I quite enjoyed the film, but for me, my favorite epic is Ben-Hur. Nonetheless, this film is quite the undertaking to watch, but the performances are really what keeps you involved for the nearly four hour run time. The film has a grand story, and it boasts some impressive visuals, which for its time were quite the feat in the cinematic medium, but still hold up to this day. The Ten Commandments is a blistering picture, one that is beautifully shot, with grand, ambitious storytelling and exceptional performances. This film is one of the most engrossing film experiences that I have seen, and it's a definite classic. However, I must warn potential viewers that you must be committed in seeing this one due to its length, and it's not for everyone either. I enjoyed the movie, and I found it to be one of the best films of the genre. However, I preferred Ben-Hur a bit more. Also the film could have been a little shorter as well. Nonetheless the film is superb in every way, and the storytelling here is ambitious, and it's a compelling picture that certainly is a feat in filmmaking. The Ten Commandments is a near perfect picture that is more captivating due to its performances from its cast, and each actor brings something unique to make the film truly something remarkable. The film is worth seeing if you're a diehard film fanatic that loves all sorts of genres, and in terms of epics, this is certainly one of the biggest along with Ben-Hur, and countless others that followed. This film set the standards of filmmaking even further and it succeeds quite well at grabbing your attention, and it is a riveting, sweeping picture that you soon won't forget. However, it is a long movie, and at times you're anxious for the film to conclude, but you're invested deeply at the same time due to the very good story and great acting that you see unfolds before your eyes. Seeing The Ten Commandments, you realize that movies where they tend to focus on big, gripping and ambitious storytelling and that's the best type of films to watch.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


The Ten Commandments is certainly extravagant. It was the most expensive film ever made up to that point. All exterior shots were actually photographed on location in Egypt. It employs a cast of thousands with 70 speaking parts. In an era where they really had to hire all of those people you see in the background, this was truly an epic undertaking. No computer animation. This is all practical effects. In a surprising bit of restraint, only 3 of the 10 plagues are depicted: the water turning into blood, thunder & hail storm, and killing of the oldest sons. The latter features an Angel of Death imagined as a thick, green mist that creeps through the streets claiming the lives of Egypt's firstborn sons. As memorable as that was, it pales next to one of the greatest special effects sequences of all time that follows the Exodus of over 12,000 extra. The production culminates in Moses' parting of the Red Sea in the climatic scene. Even now it's a visual feat to be admired. It was nominated for 7 Academy Awards winning 1 for Best Visual Effects. To this day, the movie is the sixth most successful ever when adjusting for inflation. It remains the yardstick by which all biblical stories must be measured..

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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