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The Lost City of DeMille

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The Lost City of DeMille

Postby Lzcutter » October 18th, 2014, 11:35 pm

I have been following this story for over thirty five years. Don't let the dateline of today fool you. Back in the 1980s when I lived on Gower Street up above Franklin Avenue and the nuns who sell pumpkin bread every fall, I began hearing tales of the Lost City of DeMille, the set of the The Ten Commandments, the silent version, which was filmed up on the Central Coast of California and left behind, intact, when filming was done.

Over the years, pieces began to find their way up from their sandy grave and Peter Brosnan, no relation to Pierce as far as I know, tried to raise the money to excavate the site and make a documentary.

His dreams never panned out.

But the Lost City of DeMille refuses to go quietly into the sands of time and keeps exposing parts of itself and keeps catching the interest of preservationists and archaeologists.

From today's Los Angeles Times:

Buried beneath the shifting sands of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes is a story of Biblical proportions.

In 1923, legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille built an epic Egyptian dreamscape on California's Central Coast for the silent black-and-white movie "The Ten Commandments."

Twenty-one giant sphinxes lined a path to an 800-foot-wide temple. Legend has it that after the filming was done, the set was too expensive to move and too valuable to leave for rival filmmakers to poach — so DeMille had it pushed into a trench and buried. ... story.html

We have to give the set credit, it knows how to catch the eye, perhaps this time it's enough to actually get the excavation done!

Here's hoping.......
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

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Re: The Lost City of DeMille

Postby Lomm » October 19th, 2014, 2:17 am

So much Hollywood history was destroyed with so little thought. I remember reading they burned the original King Kong set to create effects for Gone With the Wind. Of course, they had no way of knowing how important the works would be perceived over time. They were working in what they thought was essentially a disposable industry. It's still a shame.

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Re: The Lost City of DeMille

Postby moira finnie » October 19th, 2014, 4:07 pm

I've been hearing about this for years too, Lynn. Wouldn't it be fun to plan a vacation around visiting all the legendary locations in CA and other Western states where some traces of the past could be seen? John Bengston's great books and a website like this one might help this plan:

Thanks for posting this here.
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Lucky Vassall
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Re: The Lost City of DeMille

Postby Lucky Vassall » October 20th, 2014, 12:33 am

Considering how little regard they had for what they had created, I guess we're lucky at least the film preservationists are reclaiming what they can.
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Re: The Lost City of DeMille

Postby intothenitrate » December 5th, 2014, 7:40 am

I heard that when they were staging the fire scene in the windmill for the 1931 Frankenstein, they tossed on reels and reels of silent films because the nitrate stock burned so dramatically. Ouch!
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