Learn about the history of cinema in Mankato ahead of National Cinema Day


MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Moviegoers across the country will flock to the big screen Saturday to celebrate National Movie Day, and local communities are reflecting on the theatrical history of their own communities.

The Blue Earth County Historical Society says Mankato has a big-screen history that often gets overlooked.

“What really sticks in my mind is a film, a feature film, that was written, directed, starred, backed, financed, all here in Mankato in 1965,” said Jessica Potter, executive director of the Blue Earth County Historical Society. .

“Man on a Mission” was created by Bob Gardner in association with the Mankato Rotary Club.

The film was a Cold War-era spy film with a cast and crew made up entirely of local residents.

It was shot on location in locations such as Sibley Park and Minneopa State Park, and provides a glimpse of what Mankato looked like almost 60 years ago.

Mankato also has a history of film culture, with the town having had a local theater for almost as long as the medium has existed.

“By the time the motion pictures hit Mankato, there were probably at least four different theaters in town that would have shown these movies,” Potter said.

Many of these theaters were on Old Front Street, a former hub in downtown Mankato.

The Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center and Mankato Place Mall now sits where Old Front Street used to be, still a bustling hub of activity in downtown Mankato.

Garner donated his original copy and film rights to the Blue Earth County Historical Society before his death, and the museum hosted two reruns of the film, once in 1985 and another in 2015.


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