I just had the opportunity to watch a print of this and I can't recommend it enough a really fascinating documentary. It starts of so farcical that you wonder what Herzog's motives are in making this short film. However, we soon discover that this larger than life TV evangelist is not quite the pillar of towering strength that he portrays to his devoted audience (which as he reminds them, has grown well into it's 1000's).
What I found so fascinating about Dr Eugene Scott and his live telethon style broadcasts wasn't the usual reactionary opinions (although he had his share; homosexuals, women's rights etc). It was the surreal, completely unbelievable set-up of his television broadcasts. If you tried to make the most over the top parody of a TV evangelist possible, the result would still be nowhere near as ridiculous and captivating television as Scott's broadcasts. I've spent my share of time in America, seen many TV evangelists, but none of them have ever come close to Eugene Scott.
From the over the top set dressing, to his in house singing duo, to the old ladies manning the telephones (all major credit cards accepted) the whole broadcast really is quite astounding. The highlight though is Scott himself. Herzog shows us some quite extraordinary moments of television captured live by his small on-set crew. At one point the Dr grumbles I will not be defeated tonight... (pause) not one more word until that thousand comes in'. At which point the presenter crosses his arms and just glares into the live camera refusing to speak until his requests for donations are met with.
With the Dr in full swing, resistance seems futile. Soon Scott is reporting on the incoming donations, all of which are in there hundreds, many thousands of dollars. However, it's just as well It's not about the money!' as Scott screams at one point when again his requests to meet a larger target of a quarter of a million dollars are not met. Even when Scott's financial desires have been satisfied he still feels the need to insult his audience for not parting with their few hundred miserable dollars' earlier.
The strength of this documentary though is in Herzog's one on one interviews with Scott, carried out on his estate or in the back of his stretched limo. Herzog's candid questioning shows an altogether different side to the TV persona his viewers were only allowed to whiteness. I've read that since Herzog's film, the FCC shut down Scott in the early 80's. I would suggest searching the Internet for Dr Scott. He seems to have embraced the Internet in order to continue his teachings.
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