This is an interesting film. You have to admit that Mormonism is quite an American phenomenon, and Brigham Young is quite an American. He was one of the great trailblazers, and after seeing the 2002 Olympics, you must admit that there was something going on here beyond mere spiritual skullduggery.
This film was made with an "arm's distance" approval of the hierarchy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Indeed, for some reason, Mormon prophet David O. McKay had a quite cordial relationship with Cecil B. DeMille, and the great filmmaker willed Brigham Young University his papers.
This is quite an interesting film, and has many of the conventions of the era. Porter Rockwell is played as comic relief rather than the rough and tumble mountain man's mountain man that he was. Vincent Price makes an interesting Joseph Smith, with that eerie twinge to his voice giving a sense of mystery. Tyrone Power did a wonderful job of breathing life into a man who was larger than life, and Linda Darnell isn't overwhelmed by her role or her character.
The sets are a major part of the film. You can almost taste the trail dust. Filming on location adds to the power of the film, and the black and white gives the film an Ansel Adams feel. You see the long trails across the long plains, plus the ragged Rocky Mountains. While they were filming, there was an actual outbreak of crickets in Nevada, so they sent a camera crew out, and you are seeing the real thing!
True to all historical fiction, this film's history is subservient to the fiction. For those wanting the facts, I suggest Leonard Arrington's aptly-titled "Brigham Young: American Moses." For a sample of his theology, there is "Discourses of Brigham Young," compiled by John A Widtsoe.
The film in itself is a good, especially for the AMC and Turner Classics fans that like films that wisely omit the salacious sex, machine gun profanity, or scene after scene of computer generated effects that glitz in an attempt to cover up a feeble story line. This is good, solid Americana film that hearkens back to the days of pre-cause-oriented Hollywood.