The Lawton Story

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The Prince of Peace
Princeofpeaceposter.jpg
The Prince of Peace film poster, circa 1950.
Directed by William Beaudine
Harold Daniels
Produced by Kroger Babb
J. S. Jossey
Written by Mildred Horn
Milton Raison
Rev. A. Mark Wallock
Starring Ginger Prince
Forrest Taylor
Millard Coody
Music by Lee White
Cinematography Henry Sharp
Edited by Dick Currier
Distributed by Hygienic Productions
Modern Film Distributors
Release dates
  • 1948 (1948)
Country United States
Language English

The Prince of Peace, also known as The Lawton Story, was a religious-themed film that later made the exploitation rounds presented by exploitation pioneer Kroger Babb. The film was based on a passion play created in 1948 in Lawton, Oklahoma. Filmed in Cinecolor, it was presented in various forms in the years following its debut. The film also served as the debut film of child actress Ginger Prince, who was touted as her generation's Shirley Temple.[1]

Plot and production[edit]

The film's story revolves around a six-year-old girl (Prince) who becomes the positive influence in her town of Lawton. The girl, who lives with her grandfather in a small house, successfully convinces her great-uncle, a ruthless mortgage lender, to see the performance of a passion play in Lawton. The uncle is moved by the performance and changes his greedy and sinful ways.[2] The scenes with Prince, filmed over a six-day period by William Beaudine in Lawton,[3] were interspersed with scenes from nearly four hours of footage of the real-life residents of Lawton in their annual performance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.[1]

It was marketed in a manner similar to other roadshow-style film productions, such as Mom and Dad. Promoters of the film often sold Bibles following showings to capitalize on the religious element, often with a lecture during intermission.[4] Kroger Babb had no issue with his attempts at making money off the religious topic, saying that "It's no sin to make a profit."[5]

Babb attempted to introduce Prince in this film as a replacement for aging child star Shirley Temple. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Prince was given four musical numbers in the production, and featured prominently in the film's advertising and promotion, which referred to the girl as "42 inches and 42 pounds of Southern Charm" and, in reference to a sensational bathing scene with Prince, "soap washes off dirt, but only God can wash away your sins."[1]

Reception[edit]

Even with the new, professionally filmed parts, the quality of the film was considered so poor—for example, telephone poles could be seen behind the crucifix—that, upon release, it was described as "the only film that had to be dubbed from English to English."[6] It would be recut and redubbed many times,[7] but eventually opened in Lawton to a respectable crowd, and, while it failed to be a hit, the film's run in New York City was so successful that the New York Daily News called it "the Miracle of Broadway."[6]

Other reviews were not as glowing, however. Variety, in a review, specifically criticized Prince's performance in the film, saying the movie would have been better "had not producers seen fit to drag in a crass, commercial showcasing of a precocious moppet, apparently in an attempt to strike a broader popular market."[8]

People in the movie[edit]

Works cited[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Feaster, 112.
  2. ^ Friedman, 54.
  3. ^ Marshall, 247.
  4. ^ Friedman, 55.
  5. ^ Time.
  6. ^ a b Turan.
  7. ^ Friedman, 53-55.
  8. ^ Variety.

External links[edit]