A History of Latter-day Saint Screen Portrayals in the Anti-Mormon Film Era, 1905-1936
Brigham Young University
Polygamy was the key issue which acted to popularize opposition to the Latter-day Saint Church during the years 1905-1936. As a result of the continuing controversy over the so-called "Mormon Question," secular moviemakers in this period planned or actually produced nearly forty motion pictures containing Mormon characterizations. Although several important pro-LDS movies were made (some with Church assistance), portrait of the Saints. Murder and polygamy as a basic themes provide clear reference to traditional literary and theatrical images. Early attempts by Utah and Church officials to censor the offending pictures were unsuccessful. Following World War I, U.S. Senator Reed Smoot was able to effect the suppression of a number of anti-Mormon productions. After the Church reaffirmed its plural marriage ban in the mid-1920s, the anti-polygamy movement died out. As the polemical film aimed at the Church was abandoned, the Saints gradually took a more favorable screen image.