Movie Making in Utah
We have been movie fans for many years. Recently a friend told us that many classic westerns were filmed on location in Utah. Would this be a worthwhile journey for us and would we be able to see the actual sets and settings that we fondly remember from the past?

Well good news for the environment may be bad news for film buffs. Film production companies today are required to return film locations to their original condition. No traces are allowed to remain.

However, by doing some research and mixing with the locals, you can have a most special experience. Many long-time residents were involved in the classic western productions and still carry the torch for those good old days. They love telling stories about their roles as stand-ins, extras, prop people, and of sharing their homes with the cast and crew. It is not name dropping--it is history. The early productions were community efforts and the hospitality shown today for visiting film buffs is still an enthusiastic community endeavor.

Most sets are either gone or on private property, but the distinctive rock formations and backdrops are as memorable as they are breathtaking. From a public road in Johnson Canyon you can see the Long Branch Saloon and other buildings used in the Gunsmoke television series. Check with the Kane County Visitor Center (800) 733-5263 for a self-guided tour of movie locations and perhaps inquire about special tours which may get you closer to the“ real” thing.

Gouldings Trading Post in Monument Valley has some buildings used in “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” (1949). While there, check out the Movies In Monument Valley Museum and visit historic movie locations including (Director) John L. Ford Point.

To make your Utah film history adventure more exciting prepare by renting some movies from different eras. The magnificent locations around Moab, Kanabe, Monument Valley, and Lake Powell are part of our collective movie memories. A mere sampling would include Tom Mix’s“ Deadwood Coach” (1924), “Stagecoach” (1939), “Wagon Master” (1949), “How the West Was Won” (1962), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1988), “Thelma & Louise” (1990), and more recently “Planet of the Apes.”

Some excellent sources of information are www.film.utah.org; www.filmmoab.com; and www.kaneutah.com.

Happy trails to you.

   
  The Express-Times, November 18, 2001

 

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