In 1899 an aging President Lorenzo Snow is deeply troubled by the Church's crippling debt, left over from the anti-polygamy crusades of the 1880s. He feels prompted to travel to St. George, which is experiencing a tremendous drought, and while preaching in the Tabernalce there he receives a revelation to re-emphasize the law of tithing as the solution to the Church's financial troubles. Furthermore he promises rain in St. George if they will faithfully pay tithing. A reformation is begun throughout the settlements, and eventually St. George receives rain and the Church climbs out of debt.
See Mormon Film: Key Films of the Third Wave
Because of an excessive building program and other causes, in the late 1950s the Church was once again in a financial crisis. The Presiding Bishopric hence commissioned this film of the BYU Motion Picture Studio to help in a reformation similar to that in 1899; the brief was for a film on tithing, and Scott Whitaker struck upon this particular story.
Both the scope of production and publicity for the film were the greatest of any BYU film up to this point. The thirty minute commission grew into a fifty minute production--their longest yet--and hundreds of Church members were involved, including Harold B. Lee, who scouted for period locomotives. The members in St. George, including some who had been present in the actual meeting with President Snow, were particularly stallwart in creating this film, which they saw as their story. President David O. McKay, who had also known President Snow, was greatly moved, and after a St. George premiere it was distributed throughout the wards and missions and became BYU's most popular film; it effected a similar retrenchment in tithing, and the financial crisis was solved.
Scott Whitaker's script was apparently based primarily on the writings of Lorenzo Snow's son LeRoi. In his article, E. Jay Bell discusses several of the differences between the historical and the filmic events, foremost among them the fact that President Snow never mentioned anything about rainfall in connection with tithing.
Windows of Heaven was edited from fifty minutes to thirty-two in 1979 for its video release, and again to a ten minute version in 2006 for the three-disc compilation DVDs Church History: Home and Family Collection. The original version has never been put on video.
BYU / LDS Motion Picture Studio Production #0058 and #0833.
Dates Spanned in work:
Additional details at Internet Movie Database
HBLL Call No: on VC 270 (30 min. version)
Medium: 16mm color
Cast Members: Francis Urry - President Lorenzo Snow; John B. Fetzer - Stake President Daniel McArthur; Rowena Miller - Mary McArthur; Lethe Tatge - Sister Snow; Alonzo J. Morley - George F. Gibbs; others include Grant Graff, Charles C. Wood, Richard Keddington, Jay G. Baumgardner, Floyd Hunt, Blaine R. Andrus, Uriel B. Todd, Haskell Shurtliff, D. H. Edwards, Roland L. Olson, Ellis Hunt, Clifford Wirtwer, Ida B. Reid, Walter Winsor
Music Composed by: Crawford Gates
Film Editor: Frank S. Wise
Cinematographer: Robert Stum
Distributor: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints