Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Anne Baxter's Bible Stories

When I was young, we children nationwide waited eagerly every year for the annual network special broadcast presentation of 1939's The Wizard of Oz.  It usually aired on a weekend close to Easter Sunday on CBS.

We don't see The Wizard of Oz as a special network presentation anymore.  But Cecil DeMille's beautifully overdone color remake of The Ten Commandments has now become the Hollywood classic to see and quote on primetime ABC come the Passover/Easter season.  DeMille had done a silent version in the 1923.  His lavish remake has gorgeous color, stunning art direction, fabulous costumes by Edith Head, overbaked dialogue and just about every Jew in Hollywood with a SAG card who worked as a background actor.

The star assets are Charlton Heston, first as young hunky Moses in chains when it's discovered he's not Egyptian but Hebrew...
....and then later as middle-aged holy daddy bear conservative Moses with a touch of grey in the beard when he's tight with Yahweh and ready to part the Red Sea.
Co-starring with stoic Heston, there's bald beefcake Yul Brynner as the bad guy.  He's basically giving you hot, nasty male model realness the way he struts around causing high drama.  He works every single Edith Head costume he wears.  Who else but Yul Brynner could've had the swagger and confidence to make a totally butch fashion statement in those exotic costumes requiring all those accessories?

If there was a Biblical version of Magic Mike, Yul Brynner would've been the Matthew McConaughey character.



The Ten Commandments was Yul Brynner's Project Runway.

But our favorite star asset, the tastiest and ripest cherry on the overly-iced DeMille Technicolor cake, is Anne Baxter as Nefretiri.

She's determined to get her mouth on "the Kosher meal" in this drama -- and that's Moses.  She puts her bad girl vamp powers on ramming speed.
Remember Anne Baxter as "the little witch," Eve Harrington, in All About Eve?  She wants the stardom and the man that one certain Broadway legend has.  She schemed to snatch occupational and romantic territory away from kind-hearted Margo Channing (Bette Davis) the way Pharoah wanted to snatch land and freedom away from Jews in The Ten Commandments.                         
Eve manages to win the Sarah Siddons Award for Broadway acting.  In her genteel, humble acceptance speech -- a greater performance than the one she probably gave on stage -- she says "...although I am going to Hollywood to make a film..." Remember that?
DeMille's 1956 The Ten Commandments, to me, is exactly the kind of movie that Eve Harrington would've high-tailed it to Hollywood to make.  She would've worked with a famous director, had a starring role, and she would've been a vamp onscreen and off.  Eve Harrington would've been both Nefretiri and "the burning bush" in her dressing room with the married leading man.
Think about that the next time you see The Ten Commandments and hear Nefretiri coo "Moses" with that low-register, smoky voice with those wet, ready lips.

The Ten Commandments is campy religious fun.  From what I've heard about Noah starring Russell Crowe as the water prophet, DeMille did Biblical stories better at Paramount in the 1950s compared to today's Noah.  And DeMille hired black actors for Tne Ten Commandments -- unlike the director of Russell Crowe's epic.

1956's The Ten Commandments.  It's all about Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington playing Nefretiri.


She gave Bible stories a juicy pulp fiction vibe.  And I'm totally cool with that.  How about you?









2 comments:

  1. Lots of those story are wrong. The pharaoh along with the armies died in the red river according to the bible. Also, Moses knows that he was hebrew. The Pharaoh didn't let Moses walk into the desert at all. They are trying to kill Moses after Moses killed the army that assaulted the hebrew slave according to the bible. Yes, God has the name. Jehovah is the name of God. Look at Psalm 83:18 (American King James Version) any bible books. This movie have lots of inaccurate story but its fun to watch thats all.

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  2. Ohhh Nefretiri is a character with much more depth than you all seem to notice. She has a central storyline that links all important events. She had many more qualities. And Anne's astonishing performance definitely gave out much more than "a juicy pulp fiction vibe".

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