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Marjoe (1972)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 945 users  
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Part documentary, part expose, this film follows one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner on the "church tent" Revivalist circuit, commenting on the showmanship of Evangelism and "the ... See full summary »

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Title: Marjoe (1972)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Storyline

Part documentary, part expose, this film follows one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner on the "church tent" Revivalist circuit, commenting on the showmanship of Evangelism and "the religion business", prior to the start of "televangelism". Written by Steven F. Scharff <sfscharff@juno.com>

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Taglines:

You Keep the Faith...Marjoe Keeps the Money


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PG | See all certifications »
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July 1972 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marjoe's preaching allowed him to work for six months then take six months off. See more »

Quotes

Marjoe: Can God deliver a religion addict?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Thank God My Troubles Are Over
Performed by Rev. Bud Chambers
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User Reviews

 
"Would You Get Out Your Checkbooks Tonight"
16 September 2007 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Former child evangelist Marjoe Gortner lays it on the line, presumably, in this riveting true story of his life as a traveling Pentecostal preacher in the early 1970s, long before cable TV and the "electronic church". Gortner, a tall, charming, and charismatic guy talks to a documentary film crew of counterculture hippies about his techniques and tricks of the trade. "If you're going to get into big time religion, this is the game you gotta play ... you work it as a business ... The (preachers) who are successful ... they're just businessmen; they're like Madison Avenue PR men".

The camera follows Marjoe as he preaches in various settings, including an old fashioned big tent revival meeting. He shouts hallelujah a lot, prances back and forth in front of his prey, and spews out general gospel gibberish. And, of course, there's the inevitable request for ... "a love offering". At one meeting, he intones, earnestly: "Would you get out your checkbooks tonight; would some of you get out $5 or $10; bring what you would ... come on". After everyone has left, we see him sitting on his bed counting wads of cash.

The film's technical elements are fine, although there's a tendency to dwell too long in some settings. We get the idea; truly, we do.

To watch these swindlers is infuriating, in that their con is aimed at vulnerable people, those who are in varying conditions of physical and/or mental pain. Most of these victims are low-income, poorly educated folks who cannot afford to throw their money at flimflam artists. Accordingly, viewers must surely appreciate Marjoe's successful effort through this film to expose the motivations and manipulations of these "salesmen".

Of course, a performance is a performance whether it's aimed at true believers in some revival tent, or at an audience watching a film documentary. In "Marjoe", Marjoe puts on a good show. But is his message credible? I think events of the last 35 years have shown that, for the most part, the answer is yes ... his message is credible.


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