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Brigham Young

Brigham Young

4.0 4
Director: Henry Hathaway

Cast: Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Dean Jagger

Inspired by the true story of the leader of the Mormon Church, this film features Dean Jagger in the title role. The members of the Church of Latter Day Saints are subjected to religious persecution by the people of Nauvoo, Illinois, where they've settled; so under the leadership of Brigham Young, the Mormons head west, facing tremendous adversity along the way.


Inspired by the true story of the leader of the Mormon Church, this film features Dean Jagger in the title role. The members of the Church of Latter Day Saints are subjected to religious persecution by the people of Nauvoo, Illinois, where they've settled; so under the leadership of Brigham Young, the Mormons head west, facing tremendous adversity along the way. However, a gravely ill Young has a prophetic dream in which he sees what he believes is his people's promised land, where they will be allowed to live and worship as they see fit. Soon they discover the land Young saw in his dream -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Young and his followers settle there, but their hardship does not end soon. The first winter in Utah is cruel, and while the spring brings the promises of a bountiful planting season, soon a plague of locusts appears, threatening to devour the crops the settlers have just planted. A huge flock of seagulls arrives to save the day by consuming the insects. Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell play a pair of settlers who fall in love in the course of the journey. Brigham Young downplays the more controversial aspects of the Mormon church (particularly polygamy) in favor of portraying Young as a trail-blazing man of the land; in some markets, the film was shown as Brigham Young, Frontiersman.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
An epic film that has sweep but not quite sufficient scope, Brigham Young is a moderately entertaining historical piece fairly effectively crossed with elements of the traditional western film. Perhaps most surprisingly, Young is fairly accurate in its historical details (though certainly not in all of them), which is quite rare for a Hollywood biography. It also manages to downplay a number of the more controversial issues associated with Mormonism and its founding, which works both to its advantage (by avoiding raising issues that might prejudice viewers against its characters) and its disadvantage (by robbing the characters of an extra dimension and avoiding potential new dramatic conflicts). The film also employs a "double thread" narrative, emphasizing two different plotlines. The more interesting of these is that involving the title character, as the secondary plot, involving Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell, is a bit pedestrian and predictable. As a result, the film lacks cohesion and loses impact through much of the middle and later sections. Fortunately, it has a strong cast with Dean Jagger especially good in the title role, providing the strength and force that the film needs. Also noteworthy is Vincent Price, turning in some of his finest work in the lesser role of founder Joseph Smith. Young's flaws keep it from being a great film, but it has many fine moments.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital Mono, Dolby Digital Stereo]

Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by James D'Arc, Brigham Young University; Script excerpts; Movietone newsreel: Salt Lake City Premiere; Letter from Vincent Price; Production/publicity galleries

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tyrone Power Jonathan Kent
Linda Darnell Zina Webb
Dean Jagger Brigham Young
Brian Donlevy Angus Duncan
Jane Darwell Eliza Kent
John Carradine Port Rockwell
Mary Astor Mary Ann Young
Vincent Price Joseph Smith
Jean Rogers Clara Young
Ann E. Todd Mary Kent
Willard Robertson Heber Kimball
Moroni Olsen Doc Richards
Marc Lawrence Prosecutor
Stanley Andrews Hyrum Smith
Fuzzy Knight Pete
Dick Jones Henry Kent
Selmar Jackson Caleb Kent
Frederick Burton Mr. Webb
Russell Simpson Major
Arthur Aylesworth Jim Bridger
Davison Clark Johnson
Claire Du Brey Emma Smith
Tully Marshall Judge
Dick Rich Mob Leader
Ralph Dunn Jury Foreman
Edwin Maxwell Leader
Edmund MacDonald Elder
George H. Melford John Taylor
Charles Halton Prosecutor
Frank LaRue Sheriff
Charles B. Middleton Actor
Philip Morris Henchman
Lee Shumway Henchman
Cecil Weston Woman
Blackie Whiteford Court Spectator
Frank M. Thomas Hubert Crum
Chief John Big Tree Big Elk
Hank Worden Actor

Technical Credits
Henry Hathaway Director
Robert Bischoff Editor
Louis Bromfield Screenwriter
William S. Darling Art Director
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Kenneth MacGowan Associate Producer
Arthur C. Miller Cinematographer
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Maurice Ransford Art Director
Fred Sersen Special Effects
Lamar Trotti Screenwriter
Gwen Wakeling Costumes/Costume Designer
E. Clayton Ward Sound/Sound Designer
Darryl F. Zanuck Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles
2. The "Wolf Hunt"
3. A Different Kind of Courage
4. Treason
5. Brigham Young
6. The Prophet
7. The Verdict
8. Smith's Last Hour
9. A New Family
10. No Compromising
11. A Warning
12. The New Prophet
13. Exodus
14. The River
15. Anywhere But Here
16. To Mexico
17. On Our Way
18. The Indians' Welcome
19. Gold in California
20. The Frog Race
21. Young's Illness
22. This Is the Place
23. Food for Winter
24. Gone for Five Months
25. A Bad Winter
26. Jonathan's Return
27. Where's God?
28. The Swarm
29. False Prophet
30. The Sea Gulls
31. Something to Live For
32. Cast of Characters

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Brigham Young 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Mikestone8 More than 1 year ago
Excellent film, though at times historical accuracy has taken second to dramatic effect. Thus Joseph Smith's murder is shown as taking place after his trial, whereas in fact it happened before - so obviously he was never convicted of anything. Brigham Young is portrayed as having more doubts than he probably had in reality, but his role in bringing the Saints across the continent is well portrayed. And for such an early (1940) film I thought the Indians were shown in a very fair light. BTW, contrary to what anorther review states, Joseph Smith did not violate the First Amendment, which in 1844 applied only to the Federal Government ("Congress shall make no law - -") not to State or local authorities. The Nauvoo city charter gave him extremely broad powers as Mayor, so that, though his action would be illegal today, at that time he was probably within his rights in suppressing the Nauvoo Expositor. At worst, he was guilty only of malicious damage to property, which wasn't a capital offence even in those days. That of course was why his enemies lynched him rather than letting him come to trial. From their viewpoint, a trial wouldn't have produced the "right" result.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie. Plenty of drama, action, and actually historically correct "if not politically correct by todays standards". While the movie doesn't focus on the "controversial" aspects of Young or the Mormons, one should keep in mind that this was pretty much standard practice before all the pc bs came into vogue.... thankfully so! Watching this movie one will appreciate the trials and tribulations of the Latter-day Saints, the only religious group to ever suffer official persecution in the United States.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This saga of the Mormon Church is well done considering it was made 63 years ago. Dean Jagger, Vincent Price, Tyrone Power, and Linda Darnell, all did superb work. However, the story line is told more from the idealistic Mormon's view with no mention of why Mormons were persecuted and what had really lead to Joseph Smith's demise. Even though Brigham Young was the most infamous American polygamist in history, no mention of it is made in the movie. And it's great that the seagulls came and ate the crickets, but they do that every year in the Salt Lake Valley, so it wasn't just a miraculous Godsend. Not bad though, for such an old flick.
dec0558 More than 1 year ago
This is a good example of your standard early 1940's western epic; not outstanding from a cinematic point of view, but good nevertheless. The viewpoint is sympathetic to the plight of the Mormons--who remain the most persecuted religious minority in American history. The film does a dissservice to anyone hoping to learn more about 19th century Mormon history, religion and culture.

For example though the murder of Mormonisn's founder of Joseph Smith is depicted, there is no explanation as to why he was arrested in the first place. (As mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois he had ordered the distruction of a local newspaper's printing press because the newspaper had published personal accounts of Joseph's then-secret practice of polygamy. As this was a violation of the First Amendment, the Governor of Illinois has Joseph arrested. He never stood trial--as depicted in the film--because was murdered by a lynch mob while being held in jail.)

Polygamy--which was practiced by the Mormon secretly during the period depicted in the film (it wasn't made public until 1852)--is mentioned only once directly (by a minor character) and one indirectly when Brigham Young (himself a husband to at least 50 women) praises his wife (the only one portrayed in this film) for never being "jealous of the others."

What's most disappointing from an historical point of view is the characterization of Brigham Young himself. The real Brigham was a VERY forceful character who tolerated no dissenting opinions from his followers. This film presents Brigham as someone who was rather quiet and introspective, who was forceful only when attacked. Think of it as the "Sunday school version" of a religious leader.

Charlton Heston's protrayal was a little more on the money (historically speaking) in the awful 1995 TNT film, "Avenging Angel"