Skeptics will find much to admire in this groundbreaking, Oscar-winning documentary about religious hucksterism. Marjoe Gortner emerged from the womb on January 14, 1944, with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. He nearly died at birth, and the attending doctor called his survival a miracle. His parents, both professional evangelists, responded by naming the boy after Mary and Joseph and training him to preach the word of the Lord. At the age of nine months, little Marjoe had learned how to shout "Glory" into a microphone. Coached by his mother, he studied everything from saxophone to baton twirling, all in the name of becoming a better proselytizer. At age three, Marjoe began preaching professionally, and by the time he was four he was the youngest ordained minister in the United States. Marjoe left his ministry at age 14, when his father abandoned the family, but later returned to his childhood calling. As he confides frankly to filmmakers Sarah Kernochan and Howard Smith, it was never love of the Lord God that motivated his high intensity sermons: It was love of the almighty dollar. Through home movies, interviews and footage of revival meetings, Kernochan and Smith capture both Marjoe's charisma and the carny atmosphere that surrounds grassroots church-tent evangelism. At the time of the film's release, most of mainstream American was relatively unaware of what went on in Bible-belt tent meetings; televangelism and televangelist scandals later made the material all too familiar. Marjoe Gortner was 28 at the time this film was released, and used it to announce his intention to again leave the pulpit. It helped launch his brief career as a B-movie actor.
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- Released: 1972
- Rating: PG
- Review: Skeptics will find much to admire in this groundbreaking, Oscar-winning documentary about religious hucksterism. Marjoe Gortner emerged from the womb on January 14, 1944, with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. He nearly died at birth, and the att… (more)