It took me long enough but only now I had finally gotten around to watching Cecil B. DeMille’s final success of The Ten Commandments. Around the Easter season this film always plays on television but I’ve never actually convinced myself to watch it all the way through because I always found the length to be intimidating and coming around to a Hollywood Biblical epic has never been a great priority of mine. It’s easy to admire the craft behind some of these films (Ben-Hur for one I do believe is excellent as it stands), but it can be hard enough wanting a desire to revisit these films. I was fearing exactly that before watching The Ten Commandments but after having finally finished it from start to finish, I think it’s safe to say that I’m glad to have actually watched it for once – although I’d imagine seeing it on the big screen would have been a better experience.
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Amidst the final years of Hollywood’s classical era, Orson Welles provided another one of the last examples of film-noir to define the era with Touch of Evil. Much has been made of the film’s already troubled production on the count that on its theatrical release, Welles’s original vision never got its time to shine on the big screen but in subsequent years, traces of his vision that have been eliminated from the theatrical cut whether it be in the 1976 release that runs 108 minutes and unfortunately with the complete loss of Welles’s original rough cut, there is no true “director’s cut,” although the closest we have is a 111 minute long restoration as supervised by Welles himself released in 1998. Yet none of this ever hides a master at work, especially for as close to his vision as we can find ourselves, and what shines out is one of the most self-reflexive examples of the craft to have come out from the system.
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