Long before he made Grizzly Man or Cave of Forgotten Dreams or appeared in Parks and Recreation as the creepy guy who sold Andy and April a house, Werner Herzog made a documentary about the notorious early televangelist, Dr. Gene Scott. Scott was known for his intense persona making his show unnerving to watch.
The documentary God’s Angry Man features many clips of Scott’s program, so we get to see antics like refusing to talk until he raises $1,000, sitting silently for an excruciatingly long time, stopping only to berate the audience for not sending in the money fast enough. When this silence-then-berate gambit surprisingly works, he continues to berate them for making him yell at them instead of just sending the money out of God’s Love.
Gene Scott himself comes off as charismatic and intelligent, paranoid and petulant; there’s a scene where he lets his guard down and explains to Herzog that he’s sterile (after a case of the mumps) and it’s actually rather touching. But there’s something somewhat… off… about him, even in these moments, that make his show feel like an unfettered id.
Modern televangelism has gotten much more slick, and it seems perverse to wish for a Dr. Gene Scott to return to fleecing the public, but at least it’d be more fun to watch.
You can watch God’s Angry Man on YouTube here:
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