The Lord Stays in the Picture

Photo: Sue Hoffman


As the Supreme Court ponders public displays of the Ten Commandments, it’s worth noting Hollywood’s supporting role in planting the Laws of Moses on the courthouse lawn. When his epic The Ten Commandments was hitting theaters in 1956, Cecil B. DeMille was seized by the notion that moviegoers might benefit from seeing the biblical tablets in 3-D. And so Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner went forth into the land to unveil granite decalogues in North Dakota and Wisconsin, while Paramount donated part of the film’s box-office take to build more. By the mid-’60s, more than 100 monuments were scattered across the country, ready for their constitutional close-up.

    Members like you

    Mother Jones is a nonprofit, and stories like this are made possible by readers like you. or to help fund independent journalism.