The Fighting Preacher, the newest feature film from noted filmmaker T.C. Christensen opens in theaters Wednesday, July 24, 2019.
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Produced by Remember Films and distributed by Purdie Distribution, The Fighting Preacher is based on the real-life story of Willard and Rebecca Bean. In 1905, Willard became the world middleweight boxing champion, but when Joseph F. Smith asked him to step away from the limelight and serve a 5-year mission to upstate New York, the Beans immediately pack their bags and travel to the east coast. Once there, they find the hatred that existed 90 years prior is still alive and very present.
Dave McConnell and Cassidy Hubert star as Willard and Rebecca Bean in the movie, based on the couple’s 25-year missionary service in Palmyra, New York. Joseph F. Smith, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called the Beans in 1915 to occupy and operate the recently re-acquired Smith Farm near Palmyra, New York, site of many pivotal events in the Church’s history.
“Not only is the Bean’s missionary service an extraordinary story,” Christensen says, “Willard’s life before the call is fascinating. He was a boxer, fighting his way to middleweight champion of the world in 1905.” Willard’s prowess in the ring plays a role in the movie, when the boxer challenged all comers to take him on in an effort to break the ice with hostile Palmyra residents.
“When we think of pioneers, we automatically imagine church members traveling westward across the plains,” Christensen says. “Although the Beans went the opposite direction, traveling back east to the roots of the church, their pioneering spirit is no less captivating. They faced hostility and hatred, which still lingered in Palmyra, long after Joseph Smith and his followers were driven from the area.” The film dramatizes many miraculous and inspiring events as the Bean family attempts to win over their unwelcoming neighbors and find a place in the community.
In an interview, T.C. Christensen said, “There are all kinds of reasons why I wanted to make this film: It’s a great story from Church history that is hardly known, with terrific conflict and resolve 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. Just what a movie should be!”
If you enjoyed 17 Miracles, Ephraim’s Rescue, Love Kennedy, and Cokeville Miracle, some of T.C. Christensen’s and Rmember Films’ other productions, you will want to mark your calendar and plan to see this latest release as well.