Cecil De Mille’s “The Ten Commandments”: Still Very Watchable

The good words about freedom, not slavery, and the pop-song romantic ardor of Nefretiri (Anne Baxter) for Moses (Charleton Heston) make The Ten Commandments (1956) seem more modern than ancient and possibly imply that God is alive at all times.

A strikingly long movie, De Mille’s epic properly has its characters wait a long time for divine deliverance, but when it comes, talk about an upstaging of the Egyptian gods and the Egyptians themselves!  Yet the latter manage to keep their dignity:  people of all nations can self-composedly endure.

For all its artificiality, TTC is knowingly, skillfully directed with a fun-to-watch cast (Edward G. Robinson is still vigorously credible, Anne Baxter is wonderfully moony, etc.)  There is a lot of good dialogue too:  Yvonne De Carlo’s Sephora tells Moses that no one can look upon the Lord’s face and live, whereupon Moses says, “How many of my people have died because He turned His face away?”  Granted, the dialogue has been called portentous, but in the midst of all the distress and God-given dark prophecy here, what else would it be?

The artist's rendering of Charlton Heston as M...

The artist’s rendering of Charlton Heston as Moses was bulked up to modern physique standards when the DVD was released (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trying To Get Real In “The Big Steal” (The Films Of Don Siegel #1)

Robert Mitchum pursues a fellow serviceman who stole a lot of Army funds lest he himself be arrested for the crime in Don Siegel’s The Big Steal (1949).

Director Siegel generally pushed for as much plain realism as he could get in his studio-system entertainments, which accounts for the stark aggression and use of very little music in Steal.  It’s a palatable chase movie, albeit not without improbabilities (Mitchum goes to the trouble of driving numerous sheep into the road in order to block the car of a man who’s tailing him, the Jane Greer character [Joan by name] fails to keep her crook of a fiance from snatching away her pistol).

All the same, the script is likable, the action fun, the ending a charmer.  And, as in many other Siegel movies, the casting is beyond satisfactory.  Siegel made man-pleasing movies which are also meant to please women, as witness Greer’s strong, feminine Joan.

Bowie’s Modern Love “Slightly Mocks Religion”?

One of the songs on the soundtrack of Frances Ha (reviewed above) is David Bowie’s “Modern Love.”

In its review of Frances Ha, the evangelical Christian website Movieguide.org affirms that the song’s lyrics seem to “slightly mock religion and confession while advocating  putting trust in man over God.”

Er, wrong.  The lyrics tell us that modern love is missing a spiritual aspect, and the line “puts my trust in God and man” has nothing to do with people being more trustworthy than the Deity.  Not at all.

What’s to be done if a Christian website can err so badly about such a matter?

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