Aimee Semple McPherson
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WARNING! This synopsis contains spoilers. Writer-Director Richard Rossi opens and closes his critically acclaimed independent film at the ocean, establishing water as one of the symbols he uses throughout the movie. We are carried away from the shore on a train to Angelus Temple, and see Sister Aimee (Mimi Michaels), in her glory preaching. She leaves with her best friend, Sister Emma, (Etienne Eckert ) for lunch, than a swim at the beach. Aimee dives into the water at Ocean Park while Emma reads scriptures and rests on the shore. A dissolve lets us know some time has elapsed when Emma wakes up. She is startled to discovers Aimee is gone, vanished in the water. Cut to a reporter in a fedora informing us Aimee is dead, or kidnapped, or still alive, or who knows? The film flashes back to Aimee as an agnostic teenager questioning the existence of God. Her father (Rance Howard, father of director Ron Howard ), has tolerance for her doubts, but her dragonlady mother (Teres Byrne), does not. Aimee storms out, slamming the door. Eroticism and spirituality are mixed for the first of several times when a handsome Irish evangelist named Robert Semple (Chad Nadolski), converts her when she is just seventeen and than marries her under a tree. Aimee leaves with him for missionary work in China, but he dies of malaria soon after their arrival, leaving her penniless and pregnant in Hong Kong. She returns to New York with her infant daughter, Roberta, and works with the Salvation Army. She meets a practically minded accountant named Harold McPherson (Charles Hoyes ) when he tosses money into her kettle. They marry and have a son, but soon experience harrowing arguments about her calling to continue her first husband's evangelistic work. They divorce, and she hits the road with Emma, her mother, and her two children, heading west and establishing her ministry in Hollywood. She builds a church building and names the sanctuary Angelus Temple. She pioneers as a radio preacher, but soon is accused of an affair with her married engineer, Ken Ormiston (Michael Minor). The LA District Attorney (Charles Gorgano), brings her to trial, where she is accused of corruption of public morals and faking her disappearance so she could cavort with Ormiston in a love nest at Carmel by the Sea. Aimee is acquitted of all charges, although doubt remains in the minds of the public. Her third husband, David Hutton, is a charismatic conman, (played by director Richard Rossi), an Elmer Gantry who seduces her and persuades her to do Broadway and become more worldly in her behaviour. He is known in the brothels and speakeasies, where he plays his trademark guitar and entertains prostitutes. He breaks Aimee's heart, cavorting with French prostitute Myrtle Ste. Pierre (Kiera Chaplin, granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin), and subjecting her ministry to blackmail. Aimee spirals downward after their breakup, and dies of a drug overdose in 1944. The film ends with a haunting image of Sister Aimee, again at the ocean, going into the arms of a Christ figure. The film garnered the Number One Spot on the IGFA list of the 100 best guerrilla films of all time. The film will be released soon worldwide by Maverick Entertainment.


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