Here's what the Iverson Movie Ranch obsession is all about ...

For an introduction to this blog and to the obsession a growing number of vintage film and TV fans have with the Iverson Movie Ranch — the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and TV history — please read the site's introductory post, found here.
• Your feedback is appreciated — please leave comments on any of the posts.
• To find specific rock features or look up movie titles, TV shows, actors and production people, see the "LABELS" section — the long alphabetical listing on the right side of the page, below.
• To join the MAILING LIST, send me an email at iversonmovieranch@gmail.com and let me know you'd like to sign up.
• I've also begun a YouTube channel for Iverson Movie Ranch clips and other movie location videos, which you can get to by clicking here.
• Here's a link to Garden of the Gods, the best-known section of the Iverson Movie Ranch (featured in the movie "Stagecoach," the "Lone Ranger" TV show and hundreds of other productions).
• To go right to the great Iverson cinematographers, click here.
• Readers can email the webmaster at iversonmovieranch@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moses brings the Ten Commandments to the suburbs

The above screen shot comes from the 1958 Bible series "The Old Testament Scriptures," from Concordia and Family Films. In this shot Moses, played by Thayer Roberts, descends from Mount Sinai with the Tablets of Stone — bringing them to the Iverson Movie Ranch, as it turns out. Directed by Eddie Dew, the production is one of a number of Bible movies filmed at Iverson during the 1950s.

Most of the location shots for "The Old Testament Scriptures" were filmed on the Upper Iverson — including the above sequence in which three camels and their handlers traversed the North Rim area. The rocks featured in this shot, referred to by some film historians as either Rocks Across the Way or the Festival Rocks, remain in place today, though they're now surrounded by residential estates. Also seen here are the distinctive hills to the west of Chatsworth, Calif., part of the Santa Susana Mountains.

The Tablets — sometimes called the Tablets of Law or Tablets of Testimony — contained the Ten Commandments, and two separate sets were made. At least, that's the version of Bible events told by this production. In the above shot, also filmed at Iverson, Moses admires the first set of Tablets shortly before smashing them in a fit of rage.

In the studio, Moses smashes the first set of Tablets — 
this meant that a second set had to be made

Even though the production went on location to Iverson for a few key shots, the bulk of it is staged in the studio, including some obviously fake depictions of the "outdoors" — fake sky, fake rocks, obvious studio lighting, painted backdrops, etc. The above example shows Moses smashing the first set of Tablets, surrounded by fake rocks.

Moses about to topple the Golden Calf — another studio shot

The reason for Moses' fit of rage: He walked in on the Children of Israel in the act of worshiping the Golden Calf. It's all presented quite literally in the production, and in the above shot — filmed in the studio — Moses, with his head visible just below the belly of the Calf, takes it upon himself to topple the idol. This shot has a more believable background than some of the others in the production, but a close examination verifies that it's all fake.


The scene at the top of this post depicts Moses bringing the second set of Tablets. In this follow-up shot, he presents the Tablets, and the Commandments, to the faithful — but now he's back in the studio, and again surrounded by fake rocks. In terms of overall production values, well, let's just say Cecil B. DeMille has nothing to worry about from these folks.

Here are a few of the videos:

"Joseph: The Young Man" (This episode includes the camels):



"Moses: Called by God" (includes a brief shot of the Iverson rock known as Tamale, about halfway through the episode):



"Moses: Leader of God's People" (includes the bringing of the Tablets and the toppling of the Golden Calf):



"Ruth: A Faithful Woman" (features the Upper Iverson's North Rim, including Fish Head and Platypus):



Another interesting Bible production from the 1950s, which I've written about previously, marked the first screen credit for actor James Dean, who appeared as John the Apostle. That production featured a re-creation of the tomb of Jesus on the Lower Iverson. You can see that blog entry by clicking here.

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