Monday, August 30, 2010


Recently I had the opportunity to watch ‘Savage Journey’, a 1983 dramatization of the early years of the Mormon Church. And being an idiot, I took it. In my defense I wasn’t the only one – my viewing buddies JC and BM were also part of the ordeal.

With a lack of objectivity to rival the work of Leni Riefenstahl, ‘Savage Journey’ lumbers its way through the story of Brigham Young, the most prominent early disciple of Joseph Smith. Apparently it was hard being a theological nutbag in 19th century America, which is ironic, given that theological nutbagdom was all the rage at the time. But Brigham Young soldiered on, through persecution, plagues of locusts and the demands of having more wives than baths. His legacy was Salt Lake City, Utah, a place of hideous architecture and no coffee.

It would be cruel of me to go into any more detail about the plot, or its meandering path from one hardscrabble backwater of America to another. I am forced however make a couple of notes about the cast and crew.

This is what the director thought that Joseph Smith should look like, and I can’t work out why. He looks like an alien cunningly disguised as a handsome man. Of course it may be intentional; if the Mormon Church was actually a horrible alien plot it would certainly explain a lot.

Also difficult to explain is the decision to conclude the movie with a depiction of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith gazing out over modern day Salt Lake City, apparently taking a break from spending the afterlife in a Vegas chorus line.

But the most alarming aspect of ‘Savage Journey’ actually came in the closing credits.

Art direction by “Roger Pancake”? Seriously?

Music orchestrations by “Dick Hazard”? What the hell?

Me: Is that like in golf?

BM: What?

Me: You know, when you have a water hazard.

BM: I don’t… gaaaaah!!! The mental images!!!

I just wonder if there was a point in the production when someone was going around doing the introductions, and they actually said, “Dick, this is Roger Pancake. Roger, this is Dick Hazard.” Then as they shook hands, everyone got the horrible sensation that the movie was doomed.


Blogger TimT said...

Once in my childhood - not sure how, maybe it just appeared in our house as a kind of latter-day manna from heaven - we found ourselves in possession of an LP from the Rex Humbard Ministries, mostly boring choral music.

Well we gave the LP a go on the turntable. Listened. That was it.

The next day we rowed the canoe over the river, went into the bush with the dog, and had a fine time playing frisbee with the album.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

How can you speak so dismissively of a man who built something called The Cathedral of Tomorrow in 1958, then started to build a revolving restaurant on a tower next to it?

Have you built a Cathedral of Tomorrow with a revolving restaurant? No you haven't. So get off Rex's case!

11:12 AM  

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