(director/writer: Robert Pirosh; screenwriters: Karl Tunberg/novel Gods, Graves and Scholars by C.W. Ceram; cinematographer: Robert Surtees; editor: Harold Kress; music: Miklos Rozsa; cast:  Robert Taylor (Mark Brandon),  Eleanor Parker (Ann Barclay Mercedes),  Carlos Thompson (Philip Mercedes),  Victor Jory(Taureg Chief), Kurt Kasnar (Hamed Backhour),  Leon Askin (Valentine Arko, Antique Dealer),  Aldo Silvani (Father Anthimos), Frank De Kova (Ahmed Salah); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; MGM; 1954)

“Vacuous excavation yarn set in 1900 Egypt.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Vacuous excavation yarn set in 1900 Egypt. The lushly photographed film by the renown cinematographer Robert Surtees, was shot on location. Critics noted they were impressed it filmed “the Sphinx and Pyramids, historic Mount Sinai, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, the vast desert, Cairo streets and buildings, Mena House, a famous hotel near the Pyramids, and other landmarks.” Otherwise director and co-writer Robert Pirosh (“Go For Broke!”/”The Girl Rush“) has a flat film, based on the book Gods, Graves and Scholars by C.W. Ceram and co-written by Karl Tunberg.

There were rumors of an artistic conflict on the set between star Robert Taylor and Pirosh. But there was no such trouble between Taylor and co-star Eleanor Parker, rumored to be lovers off the set.

The self-made Mark Brandon (Robert Taylor) is a womanizing American
archeologist on a dig in Cairo, when recruited by the wealthy and beautiful Ann Barclay Mercedes (Eleanor Perry) to work for her to uncover the tomb of the Pharoah Ra-Hotep, an 18th-Dynasty ruler of Egypt, buried in the Valley of the Kings. Mark takes the job because he knew her deceased renown archeologist father and he was generous to him when he began his career. Ann said her dad told her by finding this tomb they will probably find proof of the OT story of Joseph’s bondage in Egypt. Also on this venture is Ann’s smarmy new hubby Philip Mercedes (Carlos Thompson).

The result is a tedious search for the tomb, a battle with grave robbers and smugglers, and an uninteresting subplot of a romance that develops between Ann and Mark.

The attempt to
repeat the success of King Solomon’s Mines (1950) never materializes in this tired production. The bad guys include Ann’s greedy hubby, his evil crime ring  partner Hamed (Kurt Kasnar) and the shady antique dealer Arko (Leon Askin).

REVIEWED ON 8/12/2017       GRADE: C+