The massive structure between Nevada and Arizona is a must-see for many visitors to Las Vegas, between losing money in the noisy casinos, eating gourmet meals at famous restaurants and enjoying some of the best shows on earth. It's an impressive engineering achievement. It has the awe-inspiring quality to penetrate your memory and stay there forever.
Ever since it was built in 1936, movie makers have also found its magic power. As have documentary shooters and commercial photographers. For the most part they like to use it as a backdrop, but can also work their way inside the concrete behemoth and do scenes there. The latest movie to film in and around it is Transformers, in a theater near you right now. Its producers secured a special permit to gain access to locations normally inaccessible to the general public, among them the generator floor, power plant roof and penstock tunnels.
Before you get to set foot on site to film, though, you need a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. A right-of-use one. Anyone with a commercial intent needs that, except newspaper and TV news people. It's kind of funny, but part of the application is a script approval. That's right. The facility management justly considers the dam a public icon and they want to make certain that its image is properly looked after. Their mission is that the dam has to be shown in a positive light.
Here are some of the other movies that had a role for the icon. Ocean's Eleven, the original one from 1960 with Frank Sinatra and the boys. Diamonds Are Forever, made in 1971, that featured Sean Connery as the real James Bond. Superman from 1978 that had a story line to destroy the place. And what about Vegas Vacation with Chevy Chase whose cousin or somebody fries an egg on a piping-hot rock sitting in his yard.