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The Apostle (1997)

PG-13 | | Drama | 20 February 1998 (USA)
2:16 | Trailer

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After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.



Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Horace
Paul Bagget ... Tag Team Preacher #3 (as Brother Paul Bagget)
... Female Sonny Supporter
... Brother Blackwell
Mary Lynette Braxton ... Mother Blackwell
... Helper
Christopher Canady ... Sister Johnson's Twin
Christian Canady ... Sister Johnson's Twin
... Mrs. Dewey Sr.
Elizabeth Chisolm ... Singer
William Atlas Cole ... Bayou Man (as Brother William Atlas Cole)
Frank Collins Jr. ... Soloist #4 (as Reverend Frank Collins Jr.)
Carl D. Cook ... Civic Auditorium Preacher (as Prophet Carl D. Cook)
Naomi Craig ... Scripture Reader
Wayne Dehart ... Liquor Store Preacher


Eulis 'Sonny' Dewey is a preacher from Texas living a happy life with his beautiful wife Jessie. Suddenly his stable world crumbles: Jessie is having an affair with young minister Horace. Sonny gets enraged and hits Horace with a softball bat, putting him into a coma. After that he leaves town, takes a new name, 'Apostle E.F.' and goes to Louisiana. There he starts to work as a mechanic for local radio station owner Elmo, and Elmo lets him preach on the radio. E.F. starts to preach everywhere: on the radio, on the streets, and with his new friend, Reverend Blackwell he starts a campaign to renovate an old church. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Lust, Obsession, Revenge... Redemption See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and a related scene of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 February 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Apostel!  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$40,969, 21 December 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$20,733,485, 14 June 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Farrah Fawcett was offered her choice of the two female leads by Robert Duvall. At first she chose Toosie, but then changed her mind and asked to play the wife. Duvall allowed the switch. After Miranda Richardson was cast as Toosie, Fawcett changed her mind once again, and said she wanted the part back. Duvall told her that she could play the wife or be out of the film. She chose the former. See more »


In the bulldozer scene (Chapter 30), Troublemaker has stood up after praying. People are scattered around him. The shot changes immediately to where these same people are standing in a defined circle holding hands singing around him for a few seconds, then it reverts back to the first shot where the people are scattered around him. (1:47:02 through 1:47:16). See more »


Momma: Don't you let her have them kids now. Fight for those children, son, you hear me?
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the end credits there is a scene showing Sonny (Robert Duvall) preaching to the prisoners during out-of-prison work. See more »


Featured in The Journey of 'The Apostle' (1998) See more »


You Didn't Have to Say It, Out Loud
Written by Randy Sharp, Chris Farren
Performed by Chris Farren
Courtesy of Windswept Pacific Entertainment Co.
See more »

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User Reviews

"I'll Fly Away"
26 May 2007 | by See all my reviews

This is a film with genuine heart and soul. It's got depth of characterization seldom found in Hollywood films. Robert Duvall gives a great performance as the sincere but flawed Pentecostal preacher, Sonny Dewey. After his marriage turns sour, followed by a spontaneous act of violence with a baseball bat, Sonny flees his home in Texas and ends up in the South Louisiana bayou country. Here, he changes his name to "The Apostle E.F." With the help of a local Black preacher, The Apostle starts a new church, called the "One Way Road To Heaven" Temple, a tiny wooden building out in the middle of nowhere.

As good as Duvall is in his performance, reinforced by a brilliant performance from Miranda Richardson in a support role, the film's non-actors, local people brought in to add authenticity to the setting, are even more convincing. No Central Casting actors could ever give the depth of characterization that these local people bring to the story. Sister Johnson, in her pink Sunday-go-to-meetin' outfit, and Sister Delilah are just terrific, as is Rick Dial, as Elmo, the local radio station host who gives The Apostle a chance to evangelize.

And whether he's preaching on radio or directly to a church congregation, The Apostle, with deep emotional conviction, shouts out his pronouncements using literal verbal imagery consistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible: "holy ghost preaching machine"; "a holy ghost explosion"; "we're going to short circuit the devil". The congregation sequences are largely improvisational, built on real emotion and feeling from real people; nothing canned here; remarkably genuine.

The film's weakness is the contrived plot that revolves around Sonny's marriage. His wife is played by Farrah Fawcett, a usually fine actress, who seems miscast here. In addition, some of the scenes, especially in the first half, could have been edited out.

You can't have a film about Pentecostal preaching without gospel music. And in "The Apostle", the hymns are old, traditional Bible-belt favorites: "I Love To Tell The Story", "Softly And Tenderly", and "I'll Fly Away". The film's subject matter, largely implied about death, the heartfelt hymns, and the film's lighting combine to render a general tone of sadness and depression, although laughter and joy find their ways into the story, as well.

Despite a hokey, contrived plot, "The Apostle" is mesmerizing in its authenticity of those in the American South who abide by the Pentecostal faith. Some viewers may find all the shouting and foot stomping off-putting. But it is genuine. In addition to being entertaining for the most part, the film will be a real eye opener for some viewers.

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