Saturday, March 21, 2015

Meanwhile, at a drive-in theater in Utah...

Charlton Heston airs out his armpits in The Ten Commandments.

Yesterday, the Twitter account Historical Images tweeted a rather remarkable -- and seasonally-appropriate -- image which caught my attention. It shows a drive-in movie theater at twilight. Above a blueish-looking sea of mid-20th-century automobiles looms a huge screen aglow with the image of Charlton Heston as Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's biblical super-epic, The Ten Commandments (1956). The caption reads: "Charlton Heston, as Moses in the The Ten Commandments, on screen at a drive-in theater in Utah, 1958." I don't know if that's true or not; Twitter accounts of supposedly "historical" vintage photographs are notoriously inaccurate. I grew up well after the heyday of drive-in movie theaters, so I've only been to such an establishment once in my life. (For the record, I saw The Crow that way.) I know that they were controversial back in the 1950s, though, since they were considered (by frustrated prudes) to be hotbeds of teenage sexuality and juvenile delinquency. Some people even derisively called them "passion pits," because the horny adolescent customers were presumably having sex in the relative seclusion of their vehicles, totally ignoring the actual movies. So how odd to see a morally-upright film like The Ten Commandments playing in a drive-in. And in Utah, no less! This is the very epicenter of Mormonism and, by far, the most uptight of all the 50 states! It figures that this is what would be playing in a Utah drive-in in the '50s, rather than a cheesy horror or biker flick. Anyway, here's the pic:

The Ten Commandments plays to an attentive Mormon audience.

Pretty cool, right? But something seemed off about it to me. The image on the movie screen, of course, comes from the film's most famous scene: the parting of the Red Sea. But it doesn't look like Moses is getting great results at that particular drive-in theater in Utah. That "sea" of cars I described earlier doesn't seem to be parting one bit. What's the deal? Is God taking a snack break? If so, He's making His buddy Moses look like a real chump out there, like a comedian who's bombing. That didn't seem right. Moses can part a sea, but he can't clear a path through Mormon traffic? So I crudely "fixed" the image in Microsoft Paint. Here's that:


Now Moses can get to the snack bar unimpeded.

Ahhhh.... that's much better.

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