“The difficulty in making a Christian film, unless you’re telling an easy, gentle ‘forgiveness’ type story, is you’re always going to step on someone’s foot. Because they say, ‘Well that’s not necessarily the way I think it should happen. I think it should be this way.'”
— Tim Ormond on his family’s films in the Christian genre
Talk about a Ron Ormond obscurity: this doesn’t appear on the IMDb or Letterboxd. It’s a Google trip to nowhere. And we thought we knew everything about Ron Ormond’s films.
It was during our failed analog excavations to find an online stream or trailer to share of Ron Ormond’s final film, The Second Coming, in which we discover an incredible, November 2007 interview with Tim Ormond, courtesy of the film review portal, Mondo Stumpo*.
In the context of that Mondo Stumpo interview, Tim Ormond disclosed a lost Ron Ormond film — made during the Ormond’s, what we like to call at B&S About Movies, their “Damascus Period.” The Land Where Jesus Walked was produced after the Ormond’s made their first two films during this period, with Estus Pirkle: If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? (1971) and The Burning Hell (1975). Then the Ormonds, sans Pirkle, went off to make their third film (actually their fourth, when considering this review): The Grim Reaper (1976).
Tim Ormond explained to Mondo Stumpo that, after making The Land Where Jesus Walked for the Sword of the Lord Organization, Sword’s Dr. John Rice suggested the Ormonds make a “sure-fire soul winner” with Rice’s powerful friends of Jack Van Impe (later a producer of the Cloud Ten Pictures rapture thrillers) and Jerry Falwell. The two popular and influential pastors were a guaranteed marquee value on the Southern Baptist circuit. Each starred in their own segment, staring directly into the congregation via the camera’s lens while rallying against the “demonic forces” of God. That film became The Grim Reaper, which was, more or less, a reworking of The Burning Hell — made fundamentally different without Pirkle’s endless sermonizing, but with the basic framework, intact.
Tim Ormond continues: “So John Rice invited my Dad, and then my Dad, of course, said, ‘Well, I need to bring Tim, to go on the Holy Land tour,’ and John said, ‘And maybe you can photograph it.’ Well, that became The Land Where Jesus Walked. Which was the first film we did in cooperation with the Sword of the Lord [Organization]. And, basically, that’s not a great film, that’s more or less a travelogue, but then we inter-spliced it with some scenes. As we would come to, let’s just say, the garden tomb, and there would be John Rice talking to the tour group; then we would dissolve through and show a scene, [a scene] that we would fabricate ourselves back in the States, then cut them together. [Thus], it became a . . . I don’t know . . . a travel documentary, a travel feature? I don’t even know if there’s a term for that, but basically, [it’s just] a travelogue. (Or, as Mondo Stumpo sums it up, expertly: a dramalogue.)
“[The Land Where Jesus Walked} was pretty nice, and it had some limited success. But it wasn’t a dynamic ‘hit them in the guts’ film; it was more a gentle tour with John Rice that was illustrated. From there, [my dad and I] thought to ourselves, we’re no longer in association with Estus Pirkle, we wish him well — and we still do — but we no longer had The Burning Hell, but it had elements in it which were great for these fundamental circles, so what we can do is a similar type of film. That led to a second film with The Sword of the Lord [Organization] called The Grim Reaper.”
There is no trailer or online streams to share. We were unsuccessful in finding the film on used VHS or DVDs through various Christian online stores.
The Ormond Reviews
* Our thanks to Mondo Stumpo for preserving the works of the Ormonds, which assisted us in the additional documentation of this film. This great blog — which also assisted us in the same with the Ormond’s The Second Coming — is still active, but discontinued publishing in June 2012.