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Life Magazine
Oct 24, 1938


4-Page set; click link at bottom to continue

Sent to Egypt by Napoleon III, practically as an exile, young Diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps (Tyrone Power) gets his first glimpse of the desert, meets the hoyden who becomes his devoted admirer. Subsequently, after a thunderstorm, he gets his vision of a canal that will cut through the isthmus, make a short passage to the treasured Orient.



The screen dramatizes the dream of a great Frenchman

The vision of a lockless canal that would join the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and cut 10,000 miles off the route to India fired the imagination of a young French consul in Egypt in 1832. He labored twenty years to get government permission. He labored five more to raise money. He traveled 70,000 miles to conquer the distrust, the obstacles, the fear, the rivalries that blocked his path. He was an old man before he saw his Queen decorate him for his labor.

Translated to the screen by 20th Century-Fox, the story of young Ferdinand de Lesseps becomes a swirling historical pageant, filled with great and glamorous figures of the 19th Century. As single-minded de Lesseps, Tyrone Power shunts back and forth from Paris to Egypt to London, pleads for his canal in the corrupt court of Napoleon III, toils for it in the scorching heat and devastating sandstorms of the Sahara Desert, fights Arab raiders, is rejected by British Lord Palmerston and supported by wily Benjamin Disraeli. For love interest, there is a beautiful queen and a loyal gamin of the desert.

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