I was doing some research on something completely different when I came across one of my old quarterlies from 1955. There was an article about the film that was made in 1953 about Luther which was wildly popular and became popular among children my age as we grew up. It was played for us in Sunday school class and my wife remembers watching it many times in parochial school. She liked it so much she bought her own copy and played it in the library where she taught. My Catholic friends were forbidden to watch it and that made it even more popular. Here is the article –
American moviegoers have paid more than two million dollars to see the film “Martin Luther” since its premiere in May of 1953, it was reported to the National Lutheran Council at its 37th annual meeting here. Robert E. A. Lee, executive secretary of Lutheran Church ProducTions, Inc., sponsor of the film, said that an estimated ten million persons have seen the movie at some 3,000 theaters in the U. S. and Canada. Mr. Lee added that a “clear return” of $700,000 had been made to Lutheran Church Productions after deduction of distribution fees and promotional and special exploitation expenses. The six Lutheran groups represented in the corporation have received a return of $550,000 thus far on their original investment of $450,000, he said. They are the National Lutheran Council, United Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church, American Lutheran Church, and Augustana Lutheran Church. Mr. Lee reported that the movie on the life of the Reformation leader has had only nominal success in the predominantly Lutheran countries of Norway and Sweden, while it has been “outstandingly successful” in non-Lutheran areas, including Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and Holland. He said he could give no explanation for this fact. In West Germany, where the picture was filmed, an estimated four million persons have seen it, Mr. Lee said.
It received an Academy Award for cinematography.