Two world premieres for 'Brigham'

Deseret News, 01 October 1977, page 4W
Two world premieres of "Brigham," produced almost entirely in Utah, have been scheduled for the Villa Theater Nov. 19 and 21, and the film will begin its public engagement Nov. 22 at the Villa.

This respresents a change from the Regency Theater, where the premiere earlier had been scheduled.  Conflicts in booking dates caused the switch, according to spokesmen for the producing company.

The Nov. 19 premiere will be by invitation only, according to Sunset Films, producers and distributors for the movie.  Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and other church, civic, and educational leaders are being invited.

The Nov. 21 premiere will be sponsored by the Utah Opera Guild with that organization handling sale of tickets and recieving proceeds from the opening presentation.

The producers of the movie, David R. Yeaman and Philip Yordan, are expected to attend both premieres along with star and featured players of the picture.  They include Maurice Grandmaison, who has the title role, and Charles Motl, who portrays the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Some featured players who are expected to be on hand for the premieres are Faith Clift, Terry Geer, John Mason and Robin Russell.  The leads and the featured players represent the successful efforts of producer Yordan, who has made many films over the past 25 years, to have a cast of talented unknowns.  "I did not want a cast of names that would have moviegoers looking at the screen and saying, 'Oh, there's Charlton Heston' or 'That's Dustin Hoffman.'  I wanted a cast that would have moviegoers saying 'That's Brigham Young' or whoever the character is.  All the major characters have extensive backgrounds of stage or television performances."

Yordan, who has made such successful commercial movies as "El Cid" and "Broken Lance," was given the freedom of LDS reference and library facilities for writing the production.  As he relates the story, he was just asked to come up with "something different" from the "Brigham Young" that starred Tyrone Power and Dean Jagger and which has had many presentations on television.

Yordan said that he had heard of the Mormons when he was approached in Hollywood by Utahns who suggested the film.  He said he had heard so little of the church that he didn't know anything about Brigham Young or Joseph beyond their names.  He said that he came to Utah as "a real neutral."  I found a compelling story with interesting persons.  I'll enlarge on that.  I found three stories - that of Joseph Smith, that of Brigham Young and the Pioneers and the third dealing with the growth of Salt Lake City."

He said he had discovered many stories about Brigham Young that are not generally known.  "When I told some of these stories, I heard such comments as, 'We had heard of that, but it's an anecdote not generally told.'  One dealt with Brigham Young, tobacco and the Indians.  Another dealt with polygamy.  These did not detract from his image as a churchman or a statesman, but they made him human.  I have included some humorous incidents I'm sure your people will appreciate," Yordan declared.

Although most of the filming took place at locales along the Wasatch Front, such as at the This Is the Place Monument and at Brigham Young's farm home, some scenes were shot on other Utah locations.  The cast of more than 3,000 includes many Utah theater personalities, such as Francis Urry, James Arrington and Larry Ruup.

Tickets for the Nov. 21 premiere will be on sale through the Utah Opera Guild and at the box office at the Villa Theater.