Billy's son, Franklin Graham, hated the movie. But Billy's daughter, Virginia, liked it. But the general public largely ignored it. Even though I never expected it to do all that well at the box office, I never would have thought it would bomb as it did.
I know I wouldn't have bought a ticket if I had known that Templeton's story was just a framing device and that the important theological issues would be ignored. Nevertheless, I thought it was still an interesting story that included episodes of Graham's life that many have never heard about.
(I think the Billy Sunday Tabernacle YFC rallies in Winona Lake, Indiana just before Billy left for LA and international fame could have made a great launching point. I was a Baptist pastor at that time and drove the church bus to take our teenagers to hear Graham preach at the BST. Nowadays it makes me chuckle to think that at the time I was a bit disappointed that it was Graham and not Templeton, because most of us considered Templeton the more moving and erudite speaker. It never surprised me that Templeton went into journalism and media after leaving YFC. He was a very brilliant man and an impressive presence. I have often wondered "what if" Templeton had had more associations with evangelicals with stronger theological backgrounds. To his credit, I think Billy realized that and so once he had the influence and access to money, he quietly funded a lot of important projects to improve the rigor of evangelical theology. For example, he launched Christianity Today magazine but left his name out of it so that his limited academic background and knowledge would not work against it. He got Harold O.J. Brown to start the magazine---which at that time was far more theologically "rigorous" than what it is today. By the way, anyone wanting a more balanced view of Billy Graham behind the scenes should read Dr. Brown's autobiography, which bombed in the marketplace as badly as this movie but is definitely worth the read.)
I do wish that the screenplay had been more honest about WHY Templeton was angry with Billy. Those arguably valid reasons (involving matters of honesty and ego) were spelled out clearly in Templeton's autobiography (which is probably still a free-to-read on his son's website) were totally white-washed in this film. (Brown's book also dealt with some related issues.) Moreover, Templeton realized that Graham had abandoned the "Jesus is the only way to God" doctrine far earlier in Graham's career than most Graham supporters today generally realize. (Anyone who doubts that Graham dropped his Jesus is the only way to God beliefs can watch the Youtube video of the bombshell interviews of Billy Graham by Robert Schuler and Larry King. Yet, Franklin Graham has defied his father on a number of fronts including Franklin's insistence that Jesus truly is "the only name given among men by which you must be saved.")
Only those that were broken, and have been put back together by God will understand the love this movie was put together with.
Were you involved in the production? Or perhaps had friends/relatives involved in the film? (If yes, I'd enjoy hearing of some of those elements.) I did not, but I did recognize friends and associates of long ago in the great photos at the end of the film during the credits, etc. I had to miss the famous prayer meeting at the Westminster Hotel (because I had to drive the church bus when the youth pastor got sick) but I had clergy friends who were there. Many of them considered that the most wonderful "anointing service" of their entire ministry career. That explains my bias about it not being central to the founding of the BGEA organization just before Billy became world-famous in the film's plotline.
I think the film is still available online as a video anyone can watch. It may even still be on Youtube.