On July 29, Dixie State University and DOCUTAH@TheELECTRIC brings the Oscar Winning Film, The Great American Cowboy, to St. George.

Filmmaker and Utah native Kieth Merrill, who will host the film at the Electric Theater, chronicles the hardened lives of professional American rodeo riders and workers, as they travel across the country and participate in grueling events. Famed rodeo rider Larry Mahan and members of the original film crew will join Merrill for the screening.

This remarkable film tells the true story of this vanishing American and his special kind of freedom. The documentary draws comparisons between these 20th century athletes and the true cowboys of the old American West, while focusing on two riders who are battling for the world championship: Larry Mahan, a seasoned veteran of the rodeo circuit, and Phil Lyne, a promising young rookie. The film will be screened at 7 p.m. and will call tickets may be reserved at docutah.com. 

Merrill was only 33 when he won the Oscar with this, his first feature length film. In addition, he directed and edited the entire film. He also photographed much of the spectacular footage.

“The cowboy has always held a mythical place in the imagination of the United States and Kieth Merrill was well positioned to tell this story, having grown up in the pioneer town of Farmington, Utah,” said Phil Tuckett, Executive Director of DOCUTAH. “The Great American Cowboy remains the seminal cinematic representation of this vanishing breed of American hero. Indeed, in the vast reaches of the American West, the cowboy remains both a necessary ranch hand and the visible incarnation of how the West was settled.  There is still a romantic notion of the quiet man dedicated to the land. This film does a masterful job of depicting both the romance and the reality.”

“We are thrilled to have Larry Mahan and members of the original film crew joining this screening at DOCUTAH@TheELECTRIC,” continued Tuckett. “This will be the first time this extraordinary film will be seen publicly since 1980, and now in a digitally remastered form. What a great reunion it will be.”

When he was criticized about the cowboys in his film seeming extra clean-cut, Merrill responded, “I have every right to be as selective in my interpretation of what is life and reality as the next man does. Some filmmakers feel they have the right to portray the sordid side of life. I have the right to find the heroism in man, and to help reflect his divine origin, and to tell people we are children of God.”

Upcoming DOCUTAH@TheELECTRIC Films

August 26: The Electric Theater, St. George, 7 p.m. The Champions. Director/Producer Darcy Dennett’s film tells the inspirational story about the pit bulls rescued from the brutal fighting ring of former Atlanta Falcon’s star quarterback Michael Vick, and those who risked it all to save them. This uplifting documentary takes us on a journey about much more than just dogs – about prejudice, being misunderstood, the power of resilience, and the significance of the relationship we as humans have with animals.