The Academy-AwardŽ-winning MARJOE is the ferocious and extraordinary chronicle of a firebrand evangelical preacher who wholeheartedly and humorously exposes himself as a fraud. An evangelist prodigy at the age of four, the... more » film captures an adult Marjoe as he recounts how he discovered the seductions of the 60s counterculture and dropped out of preaching, only to return later, using his swaggering bravado, to woo Pentecostal audiences out of their offerings. Directors Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan follow Marjoe as he embarks on his "farewell to the faith tour," revealing the secrets of religious hucksterism. MARJOE is both a fiery baptism in the cynical waters of faith healing and evangelical fervor and a fascinating profile of a man who went from hellfire to hellraising. DVD Features: Filmmaker Biographies; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection. In the OscarŽ-winning THOTH, director Sarah Kernochan turns to another wonderfully unique personality, a fantastic character who performs one-man operas in a strange language on the streets of New York to amused, befuddled, and awed audiences. DVD Features: THOTH?s Complete Opera; Filmmaker Biographies« less
Steve Gronert Ellerhoff | Portland, OR USA | 02/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have waited and waited and waited and waited for this release on DVD. Marjoe won the Oscar in 1972 for best documentary and rightfully so. He went out on a limb, admitting he was a fraud and an entertainer, and brought a film crew to capture it all. I love this film, the way he shows traveling evangelists are mainly cons who make off with a lot of money from people who don't have any to begin with. The segment with the preacher woman who breathes into her mic is crippling--telling her congregation she knows they have bills to pay and have set aside money for a winter coat but the church needs that money more. Ugh... It's incredible to watch him perform and preach the word at these revivals--he's very much a rock star--and even though he's taking this money, it's easy to sympathize with him. He was thrust into preaching at the age of four by parents who exploited and abused him to make money for the family--and ultimately, the film itself is his confession and he's genuinely sorry. I needed this movie when I saw it ten years ago. May it find more viewers who are in a bad way. Marjoe is the court jester of evangelists, and I thank him for doing this film and tarnishing his name on the Pentecostal circuit by doing so. He's helped some of us decades after he took that leap."
Best ever version of this classic
Jim Quist | Richland Center, WI USA | 12/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I concur with all the other enthusiastic reviews of this documentary. What you need to know is that this film has been restored, literally transformed compared to the old VHS version of this. The colors are bright, the picture clear, the sound is crisp. What I like most about this movie is the way it messes with your mind, delightfully. Or as others have noted, the truth sure is strange, and you've got an all access pass to this here travelin' show."
"This is a business..."
danger ex machina | Philadelphia, PA | 03/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...and, over the course of 90 minutes, Brother Marjoe and his intrepid crew out the bizarre and wild world of Pentacostal hucksterism. What a weird circle of exploitation...no wonder he decided to come clean. Just try not to look as the toothless man screams in tongues during a sermon! Regal at the close-ups of the gaudy (and no doubt pricey) necklace worn by Reverend Taylor as she preaches that her ministry doesn't spend the congregants money on "foolishness"! Why, it's like rubbernecking at a car wreck and watching a gang of battered old drunks waiting for the state store to open rolled into one! Heck, this is almost as good as the psuedo-documentary of Idi Amin, and nearly as sad. It's hard not to feel pity for the way these rubes are being duped, and from the looks of it they're pretty oblivious. One minister candidly talks about his upcoming trip to Brazil. He owns land there, which he tells Marjoe a food processor is interested in. Bought and paid for with your generous donations, praise Jesus! Marjoe helpfully describes some of his carny tricks, like drawing red crosses with sweat activated ink, and the radio/televangelist method of turning "prophecies" into maximum financial return. He evens throws a smoke bomb (shown in a short clip near the end)! Yeah, Marjoe may have been a pretty dispicable con man too, but at least he did his best to expose this nonsense when his conscience got to him. If my parents pimped me to church folks for a living from the age of four, I'd doubtless do the same, and probably with a ton of venom that Marjoe never displays (at least for the cameras). Highly recommended viewing...invite your prayer group over for popcorn and Dr. Pepper!"
Fascinating look at the waning days of the tent revival
chefdevergue | Spokane, WA United States | 01/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The tent circuit was rapidly heading for extinction by the time this documentary was made, so in addition to being one huckster's self-exposure of his skullduggery, it is also an examination of a subculture which would soon cease to exist (or at the very least be transformed into something wholy unrecognizable from its forebears).
Interestingly, even though the movie depicts the tent revival as being primarily a Southern phenomenon, the revivals shown in the movie took place (if I am recalling correctly) in California & Fort Worth Texas.
Certainly the notion of saving souls for fun & profit is nothing new, but Marjoe Gortner's candor about exactly what he is doing, including the process of exposing himself as a fraud, is a tad unsettling. Both the subject & the filmmaker know that Marjoe's reasons are far from altruistic, and each is using the other for his own purposes. The result is, at times, a rather surreal experience. Marjoe is revealing himself, but in many ways he isn't. We can never really be sure in what he believes, if anything. I suspect it wasn't so much conscience as it was a practical business decision (the tent circuit had been slowly waning since the end of WWII, when the formerly-rural American population once and for all became urbanized)) as he recognized that there were more lucrative media in which he could utilize his talents. Given his upbringing, not as a child but as a gimmick to be exploited, it would be amazing if he has a conscience at all.
Did it make a difference? Apparently not much of one, since Benny Hinn appears to be quite comfortably well-off. People will believe what makes them feel most comfortable. It wouldn't surprise me if some people believed that Marjoe made these outrageous claims of being a fraud only because Beelzebub somehow tricked him into it. For all I know, they may be praying for Marjoe's return to the fold, even today."
Robbie Asbury | Wheelersburg, Ohio United States | 12/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great documentary about Marjoe Gortner, who was the youngest ordained minister at age 4 later became a actor in movies like "Earthquake" with Charlton Heston "The Marcus Nelson Murders" with Telly Savalas and "Food Of The Gods" with Ida Lupino. In this documentary, we see Gortner in action in 1971 at tent revivals in the south counting money that he hussled from worshipers, he later quit the ministry out of guilt. Nice to hear this documentary will be fully digitally restored for dvd release."