The Overlook: A legendary Hollywood directors scaled the Great Pyramid with a visionary flop

In The Overlook, A.V. Club film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky examines the misfits, underappreciated gems, and underseen classics of film history.

Between Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the inexhaustible Rio Bravo, Howard Hawks, one of the defining greats of American film, made Land Of The Pharaohs, an atypical epic about the building of the Great Pyramid, pitched between camp and nihilism. The 1955 film was a colossal undertaking, made partly on location in Egypt by a creative team that included some of the best cinematographers and production designers of the time. William Faulkner, who had by then won the Nobel Prize In Literature, worked on the script, and the Egyptian government provided thousands of extras for construction scenes. Land Of The Pharaohs went way over budget, and ended up becoming the biggest and most important flop of Hawks’ career. Later, the director would blame the movie’s failure on the audience …

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