When I was a kid, back in the electronic stone age, we only had four television channels available, the big three networks plus PBS.  And on Saturday afternoons after cartoons were over, the local network affiliates would often run old movies of a certain class.  I recall lots of Abbot & Costello….Tarzan….Sinbad….Godzilla…..and even Bruce Lee.  Every now and again they would also throw in a big budget epic set either in the sands of Egypt or some other ancient and exotic locale.   None of these flicks was what I would call first rate, but as a rule they tended to be a pleasant form of entertainment.

I bring this up because I was reminded of those long ago days of KENS-TV 5 in San Antonio the other evening as I watched Land of the Pharaohs, a 1955 film directed by Howard Hawks, of all people.  It tells the story of Pharaoh Khufu, who having wiped the desert floor with his enemies, becomes obsessed with figuring out a way to construct a theft-proof burial chamber for himself so that he may keep the best of his enormous treasury on his journey to the afterlife.  In pursuit of this, he hires on the leader of one of the tribes he has captured, a whiz-bang architect who devises a clever way of, ah, sealing the deal.  The bulk of the “action” in the movie is concerned with the construction of the tomb and the pyramid that will go up over it.

Meanwhile, a slinky, sultry young temptress – Princess Nellifer – shows up at court and immediately sets about getting herself made Wife No. 1 to Pharaoh.  Not content with this, she then hatches a plot to get rid of him prematurely and set herself on the throne.  Without giving anything away, I will say that her plans fall, ah, flat.

The movie is perfectly entertaining in the way I mentioned above, employing big, lavish sets and about a jillion extras as Pharaoh’s army and workers.  Pharaoh himself is played by Jack Hawkins, one of those veteran Brit character actors who you’re pretty sure you’ve seen many times elsewhere and often in the character of an Army officer.  (He was in both Lawrence of Arabia and Zulu.) 

Princess Nellifer is played by a young and sultry Joan Collins, who spends most of her time pretty much doing what she does on the poster – lounging about in silks and bangles.

If Sir Basil and Mr. P are looking for a Friday evening’s entertainment, they might consider picking this one up from Netflix.  I’m pretty sure there’s some fresh fruit in it as well.