Valley of the Kings (1954)

85-86 mins | Adventure | 23 July 1954

Director:

Robert Pirosh

Cinematographer:

Robert Surtees

Editor:

Harold F. Kress

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Jack Martin Smith

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening credits contain the following written prologue: "The earth holds few treasures which have stimulated man's imagination--and his greed--as much as the tombs of the rulers of ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs. This is the story of the search for the most fabulous tomb of all." The credits also indicate that the film was "suggested by historical data in Gods, Graves and Scholars by C. W. Ceram." According to Nov 1953 HR and NYT news items, M-G-M purchased the rights to the scholarly archaeology text for "protection purposes," as it contained a chapter titled "Robbers in the Valley of the Kings" that might be construed as having influenced the film's script. Although a 29 Sep 1952 HR news item announced that Sam Zimbalist would produce the film, Valley of the Kings was released without a producer credit. Modern sources assert that the film's producer wished to remain anonymous.
       According to studio publicity materials in the film's file at the AMPAS Library, Vittorio Gassman was originally cast as "Mark Brandon." Portions of the film were shot on location at various locations in Egypt, including Cairo, Mount Sinai, Luxor, Faiyûm, Suez and the Libyan desert. Location shooting took place from 2 Dec--31 Dec 1953, and production resumed at the M-G-M studio on 11 Jan 1954. According to information in the M-G-M Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, some second unit filming took place in El Segundo, CA.
       According to Jun 1954 news items in HR and Var , the film's release date was moved up from Aug to Jul to take advantage of the publicity generated by the ... More Less

The opening credits contain the following written prologue: "The earth holds few treasures which have stimulated man's imagination--and his greed--as much as the tombs of the rulers of ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs. This is the story of the search for the most fabulous tomb of all." The credits also indicate that the film was "suggested by historical data in Gods, Graves and Scholars by C. W. Ceram." According to Nov 1953 HR and NYT news items, M-G-M purchased the rights to the scholarly archaeology text for "protection purposes," as it contained a chapter titled "Robbers in the Valley of the Kings" that might be construed as having influenced the film's script. Although a 29 Sep 1952 HR news item announced that Sam Zimbalist would produce the film, Valley of the Kings was released without a producer credit. Modern sources assert that the film's producer wished to remain anonymous.
       According to studio publicity materials in the film's file at the AMPAS Library, Vittorio Gassman was originally cast as "Mark Brandon." Portions of the film were shot on location at various locations in Egypt, including Cairo, Mount Sinai, Luxor, Faiyûm, Suez and the Libyan desert. Location shooting took place from 2 Dec--31 Dec 1953, and production resumed at the M-G-M studio on 11 Jan 1954. According to information in the M-G-M Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, some second unit filming took place in El Segundo, CA.
       According to Jun 1954 news items in HR and Var , the film's release date was moved up from Aug to Jul to take advantage of the publicity generated by the discovery of an ancient boat--believed to have been used in pharaonic funeral rites--near the Great Pyramid in Cheops, Egypt. Var reported that the picture's 21 Jul opening in Cairo and Alexandria would mark the first time an American film had a world premiere in Egypt. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Jul 1954.
---
Box Office
17 Jul 1954.
---
Daily Variety
6 Jul 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Jul 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 53
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 53
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 54
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 54
p. 3, 7.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 54
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 54
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
6 Jul 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald
10 Jul 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Jul 54
p. 57.
New York Times
8 Nov 1953.
---
New York Times
10 Jan 1954.
---
New York Times
22 Jul 54
p. 15.
Variety
28 Oct 1953.
---
Variety
24 Jun 1954.
---
Variety
7 Jul 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d unit dir
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial coach
Assoc casting dir
Loc crew
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the book Gods, Graves and Scholars by C. W. Ceram (New York, 1951).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 July 1954
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt: 21 July 1954
New York opening: 21 July 1954
Production Date:
2 December--31 December 1953
11 January--late January 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 June 1954
Copyright Number:
LP3880
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Eastman Color
Lenses/Prints
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
85-86
Length(in feet):
7,734
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16951
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1900, American Ann Mercedes arrives in Cairo at the site of an archaeological dig and calls on Mark Brandon, who is in charge of the excavation. Ann explains that her late father, a famous archeologist, was searching for a tomb believed to contain proof that the Old Testament account of Joseph in Egypt was literally true. She produces a solid gold statuette from the 18th Dynasty, and Mark notes that it bears the inscription of the pharaoh Ra-Hotep, whose tomb has not officially been discovered. Ann replies that her father found it in London, along with other antiquities that had been smuggled out of Egypt, and declares her intention to finish her father's work. Drawn by her beauty and spirit, Mark agrees to help her, but is disappointed to learn that Ann has a husband who will be arriving in Egypt soon. Posing as a wealthy collector, Ann visits the antiquities shop of Valentine Arko, and persuades him to help her acquire stolen objects from Ra-Hotep's tomb. After she leaves his shop, however, Arko is confronted by Hamed Bachkour, who warns him to reveal nothing about the smuggling operation. Ann visits another shop and is shocked to learn that someone else had just inquired about Ra-Hotep's treasures. She and Mark go to her hotel, where they find Ann's husband Philip waiting for them. Philip, a smooth European whom Mark instantly distrusts, reveals that he was the one asking about items from Ra-Hotep's tomb in town. Mark, Ann and Philip encounter Father Anthimos, who suggests that they accompany him to St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai. In the monastery's burial tomb, Mark and Ann discover clay tablets indicating that Ra-Hotep's ... +


In 1900, American Ann Mercedes arrives in Cairo at the site of an archaeological dig and calls on Mark Brandon, who is in charge of the excavation. Ann explains that her late father, a famous archeologist, was searching for a tomb believed to contain proof that the Old Testament account of Joseph in Egypt was literally true. She produces a solid gold statuette from the 18th Dynasty, and Mark notes that it bears the inscription of the pharaoh Ra-Hotep, whose tomb has not officially been discovered. Ann replies that her father found it in London, along with other antiquities that had been smuggled out of Egypt, and declares her intention to finish her father's work. Drawn by her beauty and spirit, Mark agrees to help her, but is disappointed to learn that Ann has a husband who will be arriving in Egypt soon. Posing as a wealthy collector, Ann visits the antiquities shop of Valentine Arko, and persuades him to help her acquire stolen objects from Ra-Hotep's tomb. After she leaves his shop, however, Arko is confronted by Hamed Bachkour, who warns him to reveal nothing about the smuggling operation. Ann visits another shop and is shocked to learn that someone else had just inquired about Ra-Hotep's treasures. She and Mark go to her hotel, where they find Ann's husband Philip waiting for them. Philip, a smooth European whom Mark instantly distrusts, reveals that he was the one asking about items from Ra-Hotep's tomb in town. Mark, Ann and Philip encounter Father Anthimos, who suggests that they accompany him to St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai. In the monastery's burial tomb, Mark and Ann discover clay tablets indicating that Ra-Hotep's tomb is in the Valley of the Kings. Mark, Ann and Philip set out to find the tomb, but their search is in vain. One day, in Luxor, a strange man approaches Ann and takes her to see Arko, who offers to sell her information that will lead her to the tomb. Arko says that many years ago, a man named Campos, who has since been murdered, became wealthy overnight and was rumored to be smuggling antiquities out of Ra-Hotep's tomb. The merchant reveals that a man named Ahmed Salah worked as Campos' guide, and advises Ann to seek him in the nearby village of El Tabor. Arko also warns Ann that Bachkour, who could be the man behind the smuggling operation, might be staying at their hotel. That night, as Arko prepares to leave Luxor, Bachkour stabs him to death. Philip then appears from the shadows, and Bachkour thanks him for the information about Arko's whereabouts, adding that as his partner, Philip will receive ten percent of the price of the antiquities they smuggle to Europe. Philip pulls out a gun and threatens to tell the police about Arko's murder unless he receives half the contents of Ra-Hotep's tomb. The following day, Mark, Ann and Philip lead a search party, which includes Bachkour, on an arduous trek through the desert to El Tabor. After a ferocious sandstorm separates them from the others in the caravan, Mark and Ann are taken in by the nomadic Taureg tribe and meet Salah, who was left badly disfigured when Campos attempted to murder him. Salah bitterly challenges the Americans' claim that they seek Ra-Hotep's tomb for religious reasons, and according to tribal law, Mark is forced to fight a duel with Salah to prove he is telling the truth. Mark prevails and spares Salah's life. That night, Mark and Ann surrender to their growing attraction and kiss. In the morning, Salah leads Mark and Ann to the ancient temple where he had taken Campos. Mark surmises that the actual tomb of Ra-Hotep is elsewhere, but that the temple served as a hiding place for the grave robbers who raided the tomb thousands of years ago. Mark scales the walls of the temple and discovers Bachkour's body on a ledge. He then locates a secret passageway, where Philip is waiting with a gun. The two men fight, as Ann looks on in dismay, and Philip plunges to his death. Disheartened, Ann wants to abandon the expedition, but Mark reproaches her for her lack of faith and insists that they return to the Valley of the Kings. Mark and Ann organize a dig and eventually locate Ra-Hotep's tomb. Together they explore the burial chamber, and in a hidden room find evidence that the pharaoh embraced monotheism. They also find a statue of Joseph, confirming Ann's father's theory. Thrilled with their discovery, Mark and Ann look forward to their future together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.