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Posted May 15, 2011
In the last three decades, Born-Again Evangelicism has become a major social and political force in our country. There are now several networks that broadcast these programs to millions every day. Yet, I often wonder what people who watch these programs would think if they ever saw the documentary, "Marjoe". Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1972, it's the story of Marjoe Gortner, who came from a family of preachers. He started preaching when he was a child and his family was quick to capitalize on his prodigy talents. As he became more successful, however, his father reportedly deserted the family and ran off with their monies. When Marjoe became a teenager, he became rebellious and drifted towards the Los Angeles hippie drug scene. But he was still very good at preaching. So, in the early 1970's, he allowed filmmakers Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan to film what would be his final revival tour. We see Marjoe up on the stage in action, wearing blue suits and sweaters, and his fire-and-brimstone preaching style stands in stark contrast to what he's like offstage. When he's interviewed, he wears blue jeans and tells of the many tricks that evangelists use to bilk followers out of their monies (which are mostly from folks living on a fixed income). In the end, though, Marjoe admits that he never believed a lot of things that he preached. This is Elmer Gantry for real. However, this sobering film has a more unintentionally disturbing undercurrent when one considers how powerful preachers are today using most of the tricks that Marjoe talked about some forty years ago. Not suprisingly, this film wasn't shown too much in the Bible Belt. Since this film came out, Marjoe Gortner became an actor, yet he was often typecasted as a hippie, a crazy man or (what else?) a preacher. He has long since retired from acting and preaching. One has to wonder if anyone would listen to him today if he came out with the same revealing truths about his trade. By the way, this DVD also comes with another, albeit shorter, documentary called "Thoth", co-directed by Sarah Kernochan. Winner of the Best Documentary Short in 2002, it tells the story of a New York City street performer. And this much I can tell you, it's nowhere near as revealing as "Marjoe".Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2010
Won the 1973 oscar for documentary. About an evangelical rip-off artist, child preacher. Not shown in the South then. Very topical today. Thoth, a free attachment about a street musician. Also a winner.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.