See Mormon Film: Key Films of the First Wave
Ever since One Hundred Years of Mormonism
(1913) the LDS Church was interested in producing another commercially released feature film. After years of investigating various possibilities, on March 24, 1928 they announced a deal with the nascent Pioneer Film Company, created specifically for this purpose; the original working title was The Exodus of the New World,
which would become The Exodus
then All Faces West.
The film cost an estimated $55,000 and used Hollywood players Ben Lyon and Marie Prevost; the company was so enthusiastic about its future that it announced the construction of a film studio in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake and their second feature, an Alaskan romance to be called The Malemute Kid.
The production, however, was blindsided by the arrival of talkies in 1928. That November Pioneer began advertising that they were adding a soundtrack--a process happening to reconceived silent films throughout the world--but they never raised enough funds to do so; synchronized sound (dialogue) was abandoned, but a musical score was composed and recorded by Roland Barry, which was the basis of his later stage musical by the same name. The film was thus released at the Victory Theater in Salt Lake City where it had a typical run, but it was apparently not financially successful. All prints are lost today.
Despite several attempts (such as The Message of the Ages
in 1930), the Church did not create another feature film until after the establishment of the film studio at BYU, where titles like How Near to the Angels
and Windows of Heaven
increasingly approached feature length; they would not attempt to create a fiction film for release in commercial cinemas until the failed project to make a biopic of Joseph Smith in the late 1970s. --Randy Astle