Cinema Series Stars Movies Made in Zion National Park

Remember Butch and Sundance? Part of their movie was filmed in Zion National Park.

The centennial film series “A Century of Cinema" will feature movies made in Zion National Park. There will be one showing a week for ten weeks beginning August 13. Movies will be shown each Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Canyon Community Center in the gateway community of Springdale, Utah. Admission is free.

This interesting cinema series, which is sponsored by Zion Canyon Field Institute, will be launched with a lecture about the history and context of films made in Zion over the decades. The eminently qualified speaker, Dr. James D’Arc, is curator of the Brigham Young University Motion Picture Archive.

The first movie of the series will be a traditional Western titled Ramrod. Released in 1947, "Ramrod" is based on one of the Luke Short stories and has a cast that includes Veronica Lake, Joel McCrea, Preston S. Foster, Lloyd Bridges, Jeff Corey, Donald Crisp, and Charlie Ruggles. While Ramrod lacks the polish of modern Westerns, critics have called it “engrossing” and “underappreciated.”

The next selection, In Old Arizona, is an oldie-but-goody (1929) that is truly remarkable on many counts. As any film historian will be quick to tell you, it was the first major Western to be filmed with then-new sound technology, the first “talkie” of any kind to be filmed outdoors, and one of the first film platforms on which the image of the “singing cowboy” was built. Star Warner Baxter, who portrayed the Cisco Kid in the movie, won an Academy Award for Best Actor. (This was only the second Best Actor award ever granted by the Academy.) In Old Arizona garnered four other Academy Award nominations as well, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, and Best Cinematography.

The remaining selections are:

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Eiger Sanction (1975)
Electric Horseman (1979)
Child Bride of Short Creek (1981)
Desperate Hours (1990)
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (1997)

Postscript: Robert Redford starred in three of the nine films selected for this series, and what an interesting three they are! Redford played the Sundance Kid in an iconic Western that’s now rated as one of the top 100 grossing films of all time. His Jeremiah Johnson became the single best mountain man movie that’s ever been made. Electric Horseman did OK at the box office, though many remember it best for Willie Nelson’s soundtrack performances (five songs, including “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys”).


I had the pleasure of working in Zion in 1969, but didn't know about Butch Cassidy and Sundance until 1970 when I was in Yosemite. I later visited Zion in 1979 when Electric Horseman was being filmed. I still recall horses running on the meadows below the Watchman.

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

Sounds like a great film series. You might want to include "Smoky" if you offer this series again.