This is an epic Darryl F. Zanuck production that plays fast and loose with historical facts regarding early 19th century French politics and the building of the Suez Canal. Tyrone Power stars as Ferdinand de Lesseps, an engineer and son of a French nobleman (Harry Stephenson). At the start of the film, he is in love with Eugenie (Loretta Young), but so is the French President Louis Napoleon (Leon Ames). After his father is appointed French consul to Egypt, the younger de Lesseps travels there and conceives the idea of a canal connecting the Mediterranean and Red seas. Back in France, he is promised help by Eugenie, now Napoleon's mistress, in exchange for Count de Lesseps' agreement to dissolve the government temporarily. Napoleon then declares himself emperor, making Eugenie his empress. The elder de Lesseps dies of shock at the political betrayal, while the younger de Lesseps starts building the canal, overcoming attacks by tribal people and severe heat. France cuts off backing, and de Lesseps has to get help from England to finish the project. A sandstorm injures de Lesseps, and his French-Egyptian lover Toni (Annabella) straps him to a post to save him, sacrificing her own life for the canal. Power and Annabella married each other after the film. The descendants of de Lesseps sued 20th Century Fox for libel, but lost.
Tyrone Power ... Ferdinand de Lesseps
Loretta Young ... Countess Eugenie de Montijo
Annabella ... Toni Pellerin
J. Edward Bromberg ... Prince Said
Joseph Schildkraut ... Vicomte Rene De Latour