The Ten Commandments (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

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 Trailers & 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, Rovimore
Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Faith & Spirituality, Classics
Directed By: ,
Written By: Jesse Lasky, Aeneas MacKenzie, Fredric M. Frank, Jack Gariss, Jesse Lasky Jr.
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 30, 1999
Paramount Pictures


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 Cal...
Eric Alden
as High-Ranking Officer...
Henry Brandon
as Commander of the Hos...
Mike Connors
as Amalekite Herder
Henry Corden
as Sheik of Ezion
Edna Mae Cooper
as Court Lady
Abbas El Bougbdadly
as Rameses' Charioteer
Kem Dibbs
as Corporal
Gail Kobe
as Pretty Slave Girl
John Merton
as Architect's Assistan...
Mena Mohamed
as Architect's Assistan...
Addison Richards
as Fan Bearer
Clint Walker
as Sardinian Captain
Luis Alberni
as Old Hebrew at Moses'...
Michael Ansara
as Taskmaster
Fred Coby
as Hebrew at Golden Cal...
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 ...
Emmett Lynn
as Old Slave Man/Hebrew...
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 Cal...
Kathy Garver
as Child Slave
George Melford
as Hebrew at Golden Cal...
Jeane Wood
as Slave, Hebrew at Cr...
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 Go...
Ken Dibbs
as Corporal
Franklin Farnum
as High Offical
Lisa Lee Mitchell
as Jethro's Daughter
Robert Vaughn
as Spearman/Hebrew at G...
Michael Connors
as Amalekite Herder
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Ten Commandments

Critic Reviews for The Ten Commandments

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (8)

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.

Full Review… | April 7, 2015
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | December 10, 2014
New York Daily News
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | March 4, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 19, 2007
Top Critic

It's the gigantic vulgarity, the obsessive righteousness of the director himself, which keeps the show on the road and suffuses the movie with its daft power.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The crammed contents are linked ponderously in a long, warning movie sermon that has authority but little power.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Ten Commandments


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

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

Super Reviewer

This was Cecil B.De Mille's last theatrical feature,with a running time of nearly four hours(basically the running time of 3 hours and 40 minutes which includes the opening overture,intermission, and exit music),this stunning and most extravagant blockbuster is full of absurdities and vulgarities,but in all aspects this star-studded widescreen Vista Vision and Technicolor spectacle is ravishing,and De Mille's form of showmanship,which includes his own narration,never falters. Charlton Heston might be said to achieve his apotheosis as Moses-unless one decides that it's Moses who's achieving his apotheosis as Heston-and most of the other in the star-studded epic which is based on the Holy Scriptures are comparably mythic. Simultaneously ludicrous and splendid,this epic is driven by the sort of personal conviction one almost never finds is subsequent Hollywood monoliths. The scenes with includes the parting of the Red Sea is one of the best special effects ever made. With its all-star cast that includes Yul Brenner(Rameses), Anne Baxter(Nefertiri), with Yvonne De Carlo(Sephora), Debra Paget(Lilia), John Derek(Joshua),
Edward G. Robinson(Dathan), Cedric Hardwicke(Sethi), Nina Foch(Bithiah),
Martha Scott(Yochabel). The film was nominated for an impressive Nine Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director(but lost the Best Picture Oscar to "Around The World in 80 Days"),and won the Oscar for Best Special Effects(John P. Fulton,with some of the effects coming from the Disney studios). If you want to see "The Ten Commandments",my advice is not to see this on television(since seeing it on TV around Easter time doesn't do any justice,or for that manner seeing it on DVD),but see this movie the way it was suppose to be a movie theater equipped with full 70MM projection and experience it in full six-track stereophonic sound.

Mister Caple

Super Reviewer

The Ten Commandments Quotes

– Submitted by Adam O (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Adam O (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Adam O (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Adam O (2 years ago)

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