Three years of research on filmmaking in southeastern Utah is being compiled for a book the Moab Film Commission aims to release next year as part of its 40th anniversary celebration.

The book is envisioned as an illustrated history on movies filmed in the Moab area and Monument Valley, dating to 1926, said Bette Stanton, film commission director.It's a project several years in the making that's being pushed to the forefront now because of the impending anniversary of the local film commission, which takes pride in its claim to being the most enduring film commission in the world.

"I'm really excited about it. It's going to be an ever-so-exciting year," Stanton said. "We're going to really make hullabaloo over our 40th (anniversary) because we're the longest ongoing film commission there is anywhere in the world."

Bish Taylor and George White of Moab founded the film commission in 1949. White is still involved as honorary president.

Stanton said the book has no title at this point, no funding, no publisher. But it has writers and editors and a variety of other volunteers and contributors queueing up to make it happen.

Stanton said the book will be about 128 pages, soft-cover, and packed full of black-and-white photographs from 37 major screen films and made-for-television movies, the locations they were shot in, local talent cast in the films, and film commission activities.

"It will have the history of Moab being `discovered,' and history on the Moab Film Commission, and on filming in locations in rural America - how it was done then and how it's done now - and local people who were involved," Stanton said.

She said the bulk of the book will cover the movie stars and others cast in the films, key crew members, and a synopsis on each film from classic to contemporary.

Naturally, said Stanton, the heaviest play will be on the classic westerns that were preponderant among movies shot in the red-rock desert - like "Stagecoach," which gave rise to the oft-repeated reference to this area as "John Ford country."

An ad-hoc committee headed by author Jean Akens of Moab was formed last month to begin compiling the book. Another committee is being formed in the Monument Valley area.