Wholly Moses! (1980)

PG | 103 mins | Comedy | 13 June 1980

Director:

Gary Weis

Writer:

Guy Thomas

Producer:

Freddie Fields

Cinematographer:

Frank Stanley

Editor:

Sidney Levin

Production Designer:

Dale Hennesy

Production Company:

Begelman/Fields Company
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HISTORY

Referring to the picture by its working title, a 2 Apr 1979 DV article announced that The Book of Herschel, was one of fifteen projects being developed by Columbia Pictures, and that production would begin in late fall 1979 with a $4.5 million budget.
       Principal photography began 22 Oct 1979 in Lancaster and Palmdale, CA, with a ten-week schedule planned, according to a news item in the 24 Oct 1979 Var. An 8 Jun 1980 LAT article reported that additional locations included Valyermo, CA, as well as parts of the Antelope Valley, located on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. Background actors were sprayed with makeup in assembly line fashion to achieve their desert tans. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that outdoor sets built in Lancaster and Palmdale included a small village, as well as gates into the city of New Sodom. Additional filming took place at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA, in the latter half of the production schedule.
       A brief in the 25 Jan 1980 HR announced that principal photography on the picture was completed that day. According to an article in the 9 Jul 1980 LAT, five orthodox Jewish organizations, representing close to one million religious Jews and more than 2,000 rabbis in the US and Canada, criticized the picture for mocking principles and historical events associated with the Jewish religion. Columbia Pictures President Frank Price, the film’s distributor, denied that the comedic picture intended to offend any religious group or their principles.
       The 24 Oct 1979 Var reported that the film marked director Gary Weis’s ... More Less

Referring to the picture by its working title, a 2 Apr 1979 DV article announced that The Book of Herschel, was one of fifteen projects being developed by Columbia Pictures, and that production would begin in late fall 1979 with a $4.5 million budget.
       Principal photography began 22 Oct 1979 in Lancaster and Palmdale, CA, with a ten-week schedule planned, according to a news item in the 24 Oct 1979 Var. An 8 Jun 1980 LAT article reported that additional locations included Valyermo, CA, as well as parts of the Antelope Valley, located on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. Background actors were sprayed with makeup in assembly line fashion to achieve their desert tans. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that outdoor sets built in Lancaster and Palmdale included a small village, as well as gates into the city of New Sodom. Additional filming took place at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA, in the latter half of the production schedule.
       A brief in the 25 Jan 1980 HR announced that principal photography on the picture was completed that day. According to an article in the 9 Jul 1980 LAT, five orthodox Jewish organizations, representing close to one million religious Jews and more than 2,000 rabbis in the US and Canada, criticized the picture for mocking principles and historical events associated with the Jewish religion. Columbia Pictures President Frank Price, the film’s distributor, denied that the comedic picture intended to offend any religious group or their principles.
       The 24 Oct 1979 Var reported that the film marked director Gary Weis’s theatrical film debut. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1980
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
8 Jun 1980
Calendar section.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jun 1980
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
9 Jul 1980
Part IV, p. 2.
New York Times
13 Jun 1980
p. 10.
Variety
24 Oct 1979.
---
Variety
18 Jun 1980
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Columbia Pictures Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
2d grip
Gaffer
Best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Prop asst
Set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Greensman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
SOUND
Sd eff
For Burbank Editorial Service, Inc.
Sd ed
For Burbank Editorial Service, Inc.
Prod sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Matte paintings
Title and opticals
Spec eff foreman
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Exec asst
Asst to prod
Scr supv
Unit pub
Wrangler
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Book of Herschel
Release Date:
13 June 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 13 June 1980
Production Date:
22 October 1979--25 January 1980 in southern California
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 July 1980
Copyright Number:
PA73592
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25904
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a Pilgrim Tour bus for a fifteen-day “No-Frills” Israel excursion, Harvey Orchid, a language professor at NY City College, meets a Los Angeles, California, native named Zoey, and reveals that every time he ends a relationship, he travels to forget his pain. When the tour stops for lunch, a gust of wind sweeps Zoey’s hat in the air, and Harvey and Zoey climb the rocky terrain, searching for it. They enter a cave and find an ancient scroll stored in a ceramic urn. As Harvey translates the scroll’s Aramaic writing, they learn that in ancient times, parents cast their children afloat on the Nile River to prevent the Pharaoh from turning them into slaves. When Hyssop’s son, Herschel, was found and adopted by the Semnut family, Hyssop became a family slave to be near his son. As Herschel grew, he joined the family stone carving business, and told Hyssop of his parents’ abuses and vowed to leave one day. Meanwhile, a young woman named Zeralda visited his shop to buy a stone god statue, and became flustered and left when Herschel told her the idol required virgin sacrifices. Nevertheless, Herschel was smitten and vowed to see her again. Later, bandits accosted Herschel and Hyssop as they made their deliveries. Then, the men tied Herschel to a stake surrounded by fire, hoping to collect a ransom from his family. After Herschel escaped, he was disillusioned with the power and purpose of the Gods he carved. He decided to leave his adopted family and move to a nearby city to start a new life. There, he found work in the Pharaoh’s palace. During that time, the Pharaoh’s priests plotted to ... +


On a Pilgrim Tour bus for a fifteen-day “No-Frills” Israel excursion, Harvey Orchid, a language professor at NY City College, meets a Los Angeles, California, native named Zoey, and reveals that every time he ends a relationship, he travels to forget his pain. When the tour stops for lunch, a gust of wind sweeps Zoey’s hat in the air, and Harvey and Zoey climb the rocky terrain, searching for it. They enter a cave and find an ancient scroll stored in a ceramic urn. As Harvey translates the scroll’s Aramaic writing, they learn that in ancient times, parents cast their children afloat on the Nile River to prevent the Pharaoh from turning them into slaves. When Hyssop’s son, Herschel, was found and adopted by the Semnut family, Hyssop became a family slave to be near his son. As Herschel grew, he joined the family stone carving business, and told Hyssop of his parents’ abuses and vowed to leave one day. Meanwhile, a young woman named Zeralda visited his shop to buy a stone god statue, and became flustered and left when Herschel told her the idol required virgin sacrifices. Nevertheless, Herschel was smitten and vowed to see her again. Later, bandits accosted Herschel and Hyssop as they made their deliveries. Then, the men tied Herschel to a stake surrounded by fire, hoping to collect a ransom from his family. After Herschel escaped, he was disillusioned with the power and purpose of the Gods he carved. He decided to leave his adopted family and move to a nearby city to start a new life. There, he found work in the Pharaoh’s palace. During that time, the Pharaoh’s priests plotted to install a scapegoat to distract the ruler from murdering more of his clerics, and they chose Herschel to become the Pharaoh’s “stargazer.” Later, Herschel was to host an orgy when the Pharaoh summoned him to the battlefront. Before Herschel left, Hyssop revealed that he was the boy’s true father. Herschel was pleased, but insisted that they burn the ark that carried him down the Nile as a baby so that the Pharaoh would not discover he was really a slave’s son. At the front, young Pharaoh warned Herschel that if he lost a battle, Herschel would be killed. When Pharaoh’s men were defeated, Herschel escaped and wandered through the desert. Later, the sheepherder Jethro rescued Herschel, while his seven daughters danced for the men as they dined. Herschel recognized Jethro’s daughter, Zeralda, and Jethro agreed to a marriage between Herschel and Zeralda. Jethro also gave Herschel a job as a sheepherder for his flock, while Herschel began to wish his life had a greater purpose. At the top of the mountain, Herschel heard the voice of God order him to free the slaves of Egypt. So Herschel and Zeralda made the long journey. Along the way, Herschel performed several supposed miracles, whereby streams filled with fish appeared and a blind beggar gained his sight and the use of his leg. Next, Herschel fought a giant but only fueled the monster’s reign of terror. As punishment, the authorities made Herschel a slave and sent him to work in the salt mines. He soon angered the taskmaster, and was thrown into the mines to perish. However, an angel of the Lord rescued him and he hitched a ride from a sorceress on her way to the wicked city of New Sodom. While conversing, Herschel learns that his wife has become the giant’s lover. Meanwhile, the sorceress kicked Herschel out of her wagon, and he arrived at the New Sodom gates on foot. Herschel pretended to be a eunuch in order to gain entry to the city. There, he chased the angel of the Lord into a room filled with Archangels. There, the head Archangel revealed a plan to destroy New Sodom. When Herschel protested that he was a messenger of the Lord, the head Archangel agreed to spare Herschel and Zeralda if they left the city by midnight. Herschel received a warning not to watch the city’s destruction during their escape or he and his wife would be turned into a pillar of salt. Later, Herschel mourned the loss of Zeralda, who was transformed to salt. Herschel then found Hyssop in Egypt, and was told that Moses turned the waters to blood, and blanketed the city with frogs. However, Herschel insisted that he was the chosen one, and needed an audience with the Pharaoh to sort out the confusion. In the Pharaoh’s chambers, Herschel discovered that Moses had already freed the slaves, and he was too late. The Pharaoh sent Herschel to the dungeon with the intention to behead him. Later, Hyssop and the angel of the Lord freed Herschel, who fled with his father into the desert. There, Herschel carved two tablets filled with commandments for Moses. Herschel also carved an idol to arouse God’s jealousy. God warned Herschel that he must worship only God, and not question or criticize his judgment. After God soaked Herschel in a rainstorm, he explained that Herschel would be remembered in the future for creating the commandments. Back in the present, Zoey and Harvey hear the bus’s horn and carefully carry the rolled up scroll out of the cave. However, a gust of wind destroys the fragile document and scatters it in the air. When Harvey says it is the end of Herschel and Zarelda, Zoey smiles and takes his hand.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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