The Lawton Story


2h 1949

Film Details

Also Known As
The Prince of Peace
Release Date
Apr 1, 1949
Premiere Information
Lawton, OK premiere: 1 Apr 1949
Production Company
Hallmark Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Hallmark Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Holy City--Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Cinecolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,020ft

Synopsis

In Lawton, Oklahoma, the Reverend Mark Wallock readies his plans for his annual Easter pageant while the community expresses concern over their beloved pastor's deteriorating health. When Mark's younger sister and her six-year-old daughter Ginger arrive for an extended stay, Ginger determines to reconcile Mark with his estranged brother Jonathan, the town banker. The brothers have been estranged since the death of their father, who bequeathed thousands of acres of land as a site for the Easter pageant, thus embittering Jonathan, whose interests lie in the monetary world. When Mark collapses in the church foyer after conducting Sunday services, the doctor declares that he is too frail to continue the arduous work of directing and starring in the pageant and orders him to stay in bed. Disappointed because Jonathan did not attend the church services, Ginger visits her uncle to discuss her plans of depositing her piggy bank savings in his bank. After scolding him for his absence in church, Ginger tells him of Mark's illness and invites him to Sunday dinner. Mark, meanwhile, reluctantly accepts his doctor's advice and asks bank clerk Millard Coody, who has been understudying Mark in the role of Jesus, to assume the part. At the bank the next day, Coody, encouraged by the fact that his employer has deposited ten dollars in Ginger's account, requests time off to rehearse for the pageant. In reply, Jonathan warns Coody that he will be fired if his work suffers. As Mark's health grows worse, his congregation presents him with a television set so that he can view the pageant from his bed. On Easter Sunday morning, Ginger surprises everyone by announcing that Jonathan will escort her to the pageant. When Ginger approaches her uncle, however, he refuses to go. Witnessing the child's disappointment, Henrietta, Jonathan's housekeeper, declares that she will take Ginger to the pageant even if they have to walk. Shamed, Jonathan reluctantly agrees to drive them to the festivities. As the play begins, Jonathan remains aloof, until finally, touched by the unfolding of the Christ story, he recognizes the awe-inspiring work that his brother has accomplished. After the complete New Testament is presented, capped by a depiction of the resurrection of Christ, Jonathan returns home with Ginger to reconcile with his brother.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Prince of Peace
Release Date
Apr 1, 1949
Premiere Information
Lawton, OK premiere: 1 Apr 1949
Production Company
Hallmark Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Hallmark Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Holy City--Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Cinecolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,020ft

Quotes

Trivia

The strong Oklahoma accents of the characters in the passion play had to be redubbed.

Notes

According to a March 1948 New York Times news item, Harold Daniels, the director of the film's pageant sequences, interested three wealthy oilmen from Tulsa, OK-Neil Bogan, Ted Law and John McNutt-into financing a record of the Lawton, OK, Easter pageant under the banner of Principal, Films, Inc. According to the Variety review, the pageant, an annual event, was begun twenty-four years earlier by the Rev. A. Mark Wallock, who wrote the screen narration and served as technical advisor on the film. Re-enacting the story of Christ's birth, his teachings, crucifixion and resurrection, the pageant drew a large cast of non-professional actors from the surrounding areas and attracted thousands of visitors from all over the country. It was staged at Holy City in the Wichita Mountains outside of Lawton, at a site constructed by the state soley for its production.
       Publicity materials contained in the file on the film in the AMPAS Library add that filming began the day after Rev. Wallock's Eastern Sunrise service in 1948 and continued for several weeks. Final location shots were filmed in Lawton in early December 1948. After the pageant portion was completed, according to an April 1949 Time article, producers Kroger Babb and J. S. Jossey acquired the 16mm print, blew it up to 35mm and added the modern day story. That portion, directed by William Beaudine, was filmed at the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, CA, and was completed on December 16, 1948. Ten days later, Rev. Wallock, who had been ailing throughout the production, died.
       According to materials contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Hallmark wanted to release the film as The Prince of Peace, but discovered that Principal Films, the producer of the pageant film, already owned that title. Consequently the film was released as The Lawton Story. In the early 1950s, the confusion between the two companies was cleared up, and the title of The Lawton Story was changed to The Prince of Peace. According to a 1951 Los Angeles Daily News item, the film was screened in two parts, with an advertisement for a souvenir program inserted in the middle. The proceeds from that program went to defray the cost of the next year's pageant.