The film The Ten Commandments debuted in 1956. Three hours and forty minutes long… the script contained 308 pages with 70 speaking parts. 14,000 extras and 15,000 animals (four legged extras) were used in the production.
Once movies started to make a regular appearance on network television, The Ten Commandments was shown on Easter Sunday (or recently, the Saturday night before Easter Sunday). Curious. A film depicting the historical Hebrew Exodus from Egypt, a story and event that is commemorated yearly during Passover, and yet the film is shown on Easter. Go figure.
Many of the scenes and script had to be modified once filming began. And as you can imagine, many of the scenes ending up on the cutting room floor. Some of the cut scenes have now made their appeance in “Special 54th Anniversary Edition” DVDs. I include a few that I found of interest.
Charlton Heston: Moses
Yul Brenner: Rameses
Ann Baxter: Nefretiri
Cedric Hardwicke: Sethi
Nina Foch: Bithiah
Martha Scott: Yochabel
Nefretiri: Take care, old frog, you croak too much against Moses. One more rrribbet and I will chuck you back in the pond!
Moses: What has this cloth to do with me? Tell me.
Nefretiri: It was a child’s homespun diaper. That’s why it smells funny.
Moses: What child?
Nefretiri: Bithiah drew him from the river. Memnet was with her.
Moses: Who was this child?
Nefretiri: Memnet is dead! No one need know who you are! I won’t tell anyone that you messed your diaper! I love you. I killed for you. I’ll kill anyone who comes between us.
Moses: Why did you kill for me, Nefretiri? If you love me, do not lie. Did I really mess in this diaper?
Nefretiri: Hold me in your arms. Hold me close. You were not born prince of Egypt, Moses. You are the son of Hebrews. Your father was in the rag trade.
Moses: Love cannot drown truth, Nefretiri. You do believe it, or you would not have killed Memnet.
Nefretiri: I love you. That’s the only truth I know. Well… not really. I know a few other things; but why ruin the moment?
Moses: Did this child of the Nile have a mother?
Nefretiri: Of course. Immaculate Conception comes later.
Moses: I will ask Bithiah.
Moses: Memnet spoke of a Hebrew woman named Yochabel. Did you ever know her?
Moses: Liar, liar. Pants on fire!
Bithiah: Oh, Moses, Moses!
Moses: Yours was the face I saw above my cradle. The only mother I’ve ever known. You changed my diapers and made me eat my vegetables. Wherever I am led and whatever I must do, I will always love you… even when I schtup Nefretiri.
Yochabel: Why have you come here?
Bithiah: Because Moses will come here.
Yochabel: My son? He hasn’t called, he hasn’t written!
Bithiah: No, my son! That’s all he must know. You weren’t there to change his diapers!
Yochabel: My lips might deny him, Great One, but my eyes never could. I’m going to make him a sandwich.
Bithiah: You will leave Goshen, you and your family, tonight. You can go to Miami or Scarsdale.
Yochabel: We are Levites, appointed shepherds of Israel. We cannot leave our people. Besides, I just put a load in the washer.
Bithiah: Would you take from Moses all that I have given him? Would you undo all that I have done for him? I have put the throne of Egypt within his reach! What can you give him in return?
Yochabel: A good sandwich!
Bithiah: You’ll give him heartburn and suffocating guilt!
Bithiah: They’re going away, Moses, and the secret’s going with them. No one need ever know the shame I brought upon you.
Moses: Shame? What change is there in me? Egyptian or Hebrew, I am still Moses. These are the same hands, the same arms, the same face that was mine a moment ago. Where did you put my sandwich?
Yochabel: A moment ago you were her son, the strength of Egypt. Now you are my son, and you will have to study to be a doctor. You find no shame in this?
Moses: If there is no shame in me, how can I feel shame for the woman who bore me, or the race that bred me? That was a pretty good sandwich.
Yochabel: [Yochabel’s last line] God of our fathers, who has appointed an end to the bondage of Israel, blessed am I among all mothers in the land, for my eyes have beheld Thy deliverer. Such naches. You don’t need to turn on a light… I’ll sit in the dark. Oy.
Sethi: Let the name of Moses be stricken from every book and tablet, stricken from all pylons and obelisks, stricken from every monument of Egypt. Take away his keys to the royal toilet! Throw out his expensive Italian bench-made sandals! Add extra starch to his briefs! Discontinue his membership to Plato’s Retreat! Let the name of Moses be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of men for all time.
Rameses: So it is written! So let it be done! The great Sethi is a mensch.