Hollywood has a sad history of lost props and costumes. On one hand, you can't blame them. Who can predict what is going to become iconic? Why not reuse that pretty white dress from The Seven Year Itch? But then there are unforgivable examples. The Wizard of Oz was pretty iconic by the time MGM decided to do a garage sale of props, and pieces of history (such as the Lion's suit) flew out the door for pennies. Even when plucky individuals like Debbie Reynolds have tried to set up some kind of museum or preservation group, no one is interested in funding it. Movie history, like so much "real" history, is unappreciated by those with the money to study it. So, The LA Times' story about the lost set of Cecil B. DeMille's 1928 The Ten Commandments isn't at all surprising, but Peter Brosnan's quest to find it is pretty fascinating.
DeMille filmed his original Ten Commandments in the scorching Guadalupe-Nipomo dunes of Santa Barbara, California. As old film buffs know, it was a popular location to film anything that needed a desert sequence until the mid 1940s, when films began shooting on location. There are a few remnants of Gudalupe's glory days kicking around the town, but none so weird and creepy as DeMille's Art Deco Commandments set, which is buried somewhere under the dunes. Pieces of it have popped up from time to time and decorated the town, but the majority of it is still lying in the trench DeMille bulldozed it into.
Brosnan has been trying to find it for nearly thirty years, but has had no luck securing enough funding. He had hoped to film a documentary about DeMille's lost city, but unable to truly dig it up, he's decided to change the focus to that of Gudalupe's glittery history in the hopes of helping a struggling town find its economic footing.