Utah filmmaker T.C. Christensen has released the trailer for his next movie, a true story of Latter-day Saint missionaries trying to win over hostile locals in upstate New York a century ago.
The movie, “The Fighting Preacher,” tells the story of Willard and Rebecca Bean, a former middleweight boxer and his wife who were devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1915, the church’s then-president, Joseph F. Smith, assigned the Beans to leave Utah to occupy and run the Smith Farm, near Palmyra, N.Y., where church founder Joseph Smith lived.
“It’s a great story from church history that is hardly known, with terrific conflict and resolve,” Christensen said in a statement. “But at the heart of it all, I mainly wanted to make ‘The Fighting Preacher’ because Willard and Rebecca Bean are wonderful, stalwart examples that throughout their story are funny and entertaining.”
The trailer, posted online Tuesday, shows the Beans trying to reach out to their new neighbors. Willard Bean (Dave McConnell) tries to break the ice in the ring, challenging all comers to a boxing match. When that fails, Rebecca (Cassidy Hubert) suggests kindness is a better way to connect with the people of Palmyra.
“When we think of pioneers, we automatically imagine church members traveling westward across the plains,” Christensen said in the statement. “Although the Beans went the opposite direction, traveling back east to the roots of the church, their pioneering spirit is no less captivating.”
Christensen is familiar to Utah audiences for his family-friendly, Latter-day Saint-inspired movies. His past titles include “17 Miracles,” “Ephraim’s Rescue” and “The Cokeville Miracle.”
“The Fighting Preacher” — produced by Christensen’s Remember Films and distributed by Utah-based Purdie Distribution — is set to open in theaters on Wednesday, July 24 — Pioneer Day.