Latter-day Saints on the Silver Screen
2002 documentary by Carole Mikita

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On Sunday, 7 April 2002, KSL-TV aired a half-hour documentary entitled "Latter-day Saints on the Silver Screen." The documentary was written, produced and hosted by KSL arts and culture correspondent Carole Mikita. A Mikita documentary has aired ever six months between General Conference sessions on Sunday since 1998. Mikita won an Emmy in 1998 for her documentary "Gideon's Story."

"Latter-day Saints on the Silver Screen" presented a very good overview of its subject, covering 1905 to the present time. Although the brief documentary did not mention any filmmakers or films which were not already mentioned on the website, it did provide wider exposure to this topic to television viewers.

The credits for this documentary were:

Producer/Reporter: Carole Mikita
Photographers: KSL News Staff
Editor: Bob Brown
Graphics: Rita Papadakis
Post Production: Lance Hope, Jeff Poulter
Promotion: Jane Allen
Managing Editor: Con Psarras
News Director: Brink Chipman
Executive Producer: Russ Crabb

Films and filmmakers mentioned during the documentary were:

1905 - "A Trip to Salt Lake City" 2-minute silent short. Filmmaker: Thomas Edison. Spoof of polygamy. Overburdened man with many wives and children trying to get them all a drink of water at the same time. Carole Mikita says in the documentary that this is the earliest movie reference to Mormons.

1917 - A Mormon Maid

1922 - Trapped by the Mormons - England. Mentioned in President Benson's biography as being of concern and a challenge he faced as a missionary.

A general reference to occasional Mormon characters in westerns during the 1930's and 40's - portrayed as long-suffering, religious pioneers.

1940 - Brigham Young: Frontiersman. Vincent Price played Joseph Smith. The actor who played Brigham Young (Dean Jagger) later joined the church. Mikita talked about how the Church cooperated with Hollywood in the making of "Brigham Young" to make sure it was more accurate, and she quoted the prophet at the time (Heber J. Grant) as saying, after he left a screening of the film, that he wouldn't change a thing, that this film would make friends.

1950 - Wagon Master. A scene is shown in which a couple of the characters tell the Indians they are Mormons and that pacifies the Indians.

1958 - Blood Arrow. Mormon characters

1969 - Paint Your Wagon. A polygamist is talked into selling one of his two wives.

Television: "Picket Fences" (an episode of the regular series) and Siege at Alta View (a made-for-television movie)

Church videos - "Together Forever"

Kieth Merrill - The Alamo (1987); The Great American Cowboy; Legacy; Testaments

Richard Dutcher called a modern-day pioneer - God's Army; Brigham City; The Prophet

The Other Side of Heaven

The Singles Ward

Out of Step
The documentary called Out of Step another example of a crossover film: meaning meant for members and non-members alike. They gave a very basic plot synopsis, showed the director talking about how non-members would be able to enjoy the film without getting the feeling that they were being preached at or even being taught about Mormonism, and then said that the film was just starting out so it was too early to say if it would be financially successful or not, although critics have given positive reviews.

People who appeared in the documentary:

Carole Mikita

Professor Jim D'Arc - Curator BYU Film Archives

Chris Hicks - Feature Editor and former full-time movie reviewer, Deseret News

Richard Dutcher

Jeff Simpson - President, Excel Entertainment Group

Jeff Simpson specifically mentioned Cinemark when he said the big theater chains take them seriously, especially in the Intermountain West, after the success of God's Army.

Larry H. Miller - Investor in The Prophet

Gerald Molen - credited as an "Academy Award Winning Producer." Molen said that The Other Side of Heaven is his last film before retiring.

Mitch Davis - writer/director of The Other Side of Heaven

Brother and Sister Groberg, the actual people whose story is told in The Other Side of Heaven

Christopher Gorham - star of The Other Side of Heaven

Leigh Von Der Esch - Utah Film Commission Director

Kurt Hale

Ryan Little - Director of Out of Step

They also had some quotes and one-liners referring to Mormons from various shows including: "Cheers", "Chapter Two", Star Trek IV, Jeremiah Johnson and others.

Web page created 8 February 2002.
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