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  • Writer's picturePassport America

A Movie Buff.....Who, Me?

Recently a visit to the Little Hollywood Museum in Kanab, Utah, reminded me of fond memories of my growing up years and how much the movie industry has changed through the years. 


My first experience with the movies was from stories related by my grandfather.  His parents, Italian immigrants, came to the United States in the late 1800s, worked in the coal mines, ran a boarding house, and owned a dance hall and movie theater. In the mid 1920s, The Iron Horse, a silent John Ford movie about the construction of the American first transcontinental railroad, was one of many movies to play on the screen in their theater.


During the 1930s and 1940s, cinema was the principal form of entertainment. Most people would attend a movie at least twice a week. Movies like The Wizard of OZ (1939) and Love Laughs at Andy Hardy (1946) were listed on the marque as that era and into the early 1950s was considered to be the golden age of the musical films.

It was also in the 1950s, during the summer months, we as a family would go to one of the nearby towns to watch movies shown on the side of a building. For a nickel, sitting on a blanket and eating popcorn, I'm sure we thought it couldn't get any better!


In 1954, along came the movie River of No Return, my first CinemaScope movie. It was in technicolor with high fidelity directional-stereophonic sound. I felt like I was on the raft with Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum!


In 1958, there were more than 4,000 drive-in movies in operation. The movie lot could hold 100-400 cars. The cost to view the movie was 25 cents per car and an additional 25 cents per person. (About 4 young people could fit in the trunk!) During that time frame, you could find me in the concession stand as the "popcorn" girl.

From the 1960s through the 1990s, we saw movies like Star Wars, Bull Durham, The Hiding Place, A League of Their Own and Jurassic Park plus many western films. And that is where the Little Hollywood Movie Museum comes in...


This region, with towering Navajo sandstone cliffs and breathtaking vistas, has been a filming location for over 100 movie productions and hundreds of television shows since 1920. Some of the movies filled here were Stagecoach (1939), Lone Ranger (1956), the Western series Gunsmoke (1955-1975) to the sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes (1968) to the fourth machines-from-outer space film, Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014).


I was told that thousands of tourists visit this museum during the summer months. Their claim to fame is there are real sets from the "Reel" West. Some being just a cabin or a jail, a covered wagon, or a rustic windmill...but all being a prop or setting for a movie.  The museum was established in 1990 and is a non-profit organization (donations accepted) to showcase the actual collection of the outdoor movie sets.


There are two special features of the museum.  One being the gift shop/trading post which hosts beautiful Native American arts and jewelry and movie memorabilia. And the second is the Cowboy buffet, which has been serving delicious BBQ for the last 30 years, along with audience participation to the "How the West was Lost" production performed on the streets of the movie sets.

Old memories or new memories...being a movie buff or not...a stop at the Little Hollywood Movie Museum should be on your list of things to do while in the Kanab area. Just look for the white horse at the West end of town off Hwy 89.


More information: or 435-644-5337 or or 435-689-0706

Photos and text by Barbara Oliver

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