- Movie Rating -

Salvation! Have You Said Your Prayers Today? (1987)

| June 19, 1987

I started hearing about the work of Beth B, the New York experimental director going back a few years.  She breaks from tradition by dealing in style over substance, sometimes to effect sometimes not – that’s why she’s labeled ‘experimental’.  I’ve managed to track down at least one of her short films and just two years ago I caught one of her early films, The Trap Door (which she made with former partner Scott B), in a run-down cracker box art house theater in Georgia which was an appropriate setting for the work.  It wasn’t a great film, in fact I wasn’t really sure what it was, but I appreciated the effort.

She doesn’t appear to be working in the space of her contemporaries.  Her films are weird, often jarring, and at times just plain confusing.  In working with style over substance most find her work frustrating, I find it fascinating.

That, in large part, is why I was so interested in Salvation: Have You Said Your Prayers Today? which is supposed to be a satire on televangelist (a very timely subject to say the least).  What would her strange and odd experimental style have to unearth about this particularly topic.

Not much I’m afraid.  What I expected to be a mixture of ripped-from-the-headlines urgency mixed with experimental filmmaking trickery turns out to be little more than a bizarre caper that would barely pass the muster of the TV movie.

The movie stars Steven McHattie in a lively performance as The Reverend Edward Randall, one of those TV preachers who goes on television wearing tailored suits, surrounds himself with neon crosses and organ music and tells his tele-paritioners that God will basically grant any request so long as they send the good reverend just a little out of their paychecks.  He talks a fiery sermon but away from the cameras he amasses a massive fortune and engages in sex and debauchery that his Biblical mandates forbid.

That part was interesting, but then the movie turns into a sort of caper plot.  One night the reverend unwisely lets a woman into his heavily-guarded house where she and a compatriot sexually torture him until he escapes out the window and into the car of a woman whose brother-in-law was in on the assault.

I didn’t care about any of that stuff.  I had hoped that Beth B could give us some insights into the world of the televangelist especially in the wake of scandals involving Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert but she isn’t interested in any of that.  Her film is more pedestrian, more willing to move along the strands of a caper plot.  Personally, I was disappointed.  I was hoping for something really challenging, some kind of twist on the material.  Tell me something that I don’t already know.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy