The first film made in Sedona was a silent movie named, Call of the Canyon. The book was written by Zane Grey and he insisted that they film the screenplay in the setting he had used for the book. It was produced by Famous Players - Lasky. The director was Victor Fleming, who later directed Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. The movie ran about 70 minutes and took up several film reels.

The plot of Call of the Canyon is not your normal western story.

Glenn Kilboure, played by Richard Dix, was exposed to gas during World War I and upon his return the doctors recommend moving west to a drier, mountain climate. So, Glenn moves west and meets Flo Hunter, played by Marjorie Daw, who nurses him back to health. Glenn fiancée, Carley Burch, played by Lois Wilson, visits Arizona, but returns to New York, as she prefers the big city. Then, Flo is injured in an accident and Glenn proposes to her to repay her for the care she has given him. Carley hears about the upcoming wedding and returns. She arrives on the day of the wedding and disrupts the plans. When Flo sees that Glenn is still in love with Carley, she decides to marry another suitor.

Lee Doyle was the location manager for this film and he also provided technical support, transportation and supplies. He was a personal friend of Zane Grey. Doyle’s father had shown Zane Grey around Sedona on his first trip to the area. Doyle continued to promote filming in Sedona; however it was 7 years before the movie industry returned. This may have been because during the filming of Call of the Canyon, a severe thunder storm washed out several roads which delayed the movie’s progress.

Call of the Canyon appeared to by one of the 80% of silent films that are lost, as the film industry did not keep movie archives during that era. However, in 2010 the film was discovered in Gosfilmofond, a Russian state film archive. A digital copy was created and presented to the Library of Congress on October 22 of 2010.

©2016.Dawn Gould, Owner of Sedona Olde Time Photos. All rights reserved.


The Sedona filmography and Videography –Expanded 2005 Edition – Published by Sedona Historical Society

IMDb .com, Inc. - visited 6-10-16

True West - Call of the Canyon by Joe McNeill 1/10/2012 - visited 6-10-16

Antti Alanen: Film Diary - The Call of the Canyon (1923) by Antti Alanen – 10/9/15 - - visited 6-10-16

CNN – Article ‘Lost’ silent movies found in Russia, returned to U.S. by Kelly Marshall Smoot 10/21/10 - visited 6-10-16