Release Date(s)1980 (March 16, 2021)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: C
- Audio Grade: C
- Extras Grade: A-
Unexpectedly having a hit with The Last Remake of Beau Geste in 1977, Marty Feldman’s deal with Universal Pictures allowed him to do a second film. This time, however, he would be given full creative control, though not without constant detraction along the way. In God We Trust (or Gimme That Prime Time Religion) would prove to be a far more controversial work, satirizing religion and pushing the buttons of the studio. Feldman, who rebelled against them at every turn, managed to get the cast that he wanted and a final cut that he was happy with. Released in September of 1980 with little to no fanfare, the film wasn’t as successful as its predecessor, despite testing well with audiences. It was also the last film that Marty Feldman would direct as he passed away suddenly two years later while working on Yellowbeard.
Brother Ambrose (Feldman) is a devoted monk who lives in a monastery that is about to be closed. Sent out into the world in order to obtain $5000 to keep it open, his plan is to beg for help from the famous TV televangelist Armageddon T. Thunderbird (Andy Kaufman), a plan which fails initially. He befriends a religious shyster named Sebastian (Peter Boyle), who travels in a modified school bus that resembles a church, and Mary (Louise Lasser), a prostitute who takes pity on him and takes him in. Having never seen a woman before, he begins to experience feelings for her while he and Sebastian attempt to make money for the monastery by holding religious services on the bus. Thunderbird takes notice and attempts to scam Ambrose, but after discovering and altering Thunderbird’s private computer program G.O.D. (Richard Pryor), Ambrose is on the run, attempting to get the money back to the orphanage with the help of Mary and Sebastian.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics brings In God We Trust to Blu-ray for the first time with what appears to be a much older master, supplied by Universal. The results aren’t as pleasing as its predecessor (which we’ve also reviewed). Sections of the film, particularly those shot with lower light levels, hold up nicely. The majority of the film, however, offers a low level of fine detail due to the age of the master. Opticals don’t help either. However, saturation is good and the contrast levels are ideal. The image is stable and leftover scratches and speckling also remain.
The audio is provided in English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA with optional English subtitles. Unfortunately, the audio isn’t balanced properly, leaning mostly to the right speaker. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise, if a bit rough around the edges, while sound effects and score, as well as Harry Nilsson’s theme song for the film, offer decent depth. It’s mostly a clean track as well, but the unbalanced nature of the audio might make it a difficult listen on certain setups.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary by Alan Spencer
- Audio Commentary by Bryan Reesman
- Trailers from Hell with Alan Spencer (HD and Upsampled SD – 3:19)
- Radio Spots (HD – 3 in all – 1:27)
- Promotional Gallery (HD – 10 in all – 1:33)
- B&W Stills Gallery (HD – 23 in all – 2:01)
- Trailer #1 (HD – 2:33)
- Trailer #2 (Upsampled SD – 2:11)
- The Last Remake of Beau Geste Trailer (Upsampled SD – 2:20)
Like its predecessor, The Last Remake of Beau Geste, this Blu-ray release also comes armed with two excellent audio commentaries. The creator of the great TV series Sledge Hammer! and close personal friend of Marty Feldman, Alan Spencer, returns to discuss Marty’s personality and his dealings with Universal, his future film plans had things worked out, his physical comedy talents and influences, various scenes that were cut prior to being filmed or deleted later on, the backgrounds and talents of the cast and crew, Spencer’s own brush with Scientology and how it related to Feldman and the film, Feldman’s views on religion, how Spencer and Feldman met, Feldman’s examination of the separation of church and state, the film’s controversial reference to MCA, and Feldman’s untimely passing. Once again, journalist and author Bryan Reesman takes us through the film in the second commentary, discussing the music of Harry Nilsson and John Morris, Feldman’s career leading up to In God We Trust, the history of Trappist monasteries, information about other locations from the film, Feldman’s personal belief system and how it affected his work, the history of Gideons International, comparisons to other religious-themed comedies, specific critical reactions to the film, the film’s social commentaries relating to today’s world, an analysis of televangelists, and the casting of a black man as a vision of a religious deity. The trailer used for the Trailers from Hell commentary by Alan Spencer covers much of the same ground as his commentary. The two image galleries comprise 33 stills of posters, lobby cards, an audience score card, and promotional images. The extras are rounded out by three radio spots, two trailers, and a trailer for Marty Feldman’s first directorial effort, The Last Remake of Beau Geste.
In God We Trust was unfairly dumped by the studio that produced it, but looking at it today, it’s incredibly prescient on many levels, but also proves that Marty Feldman was more than just a pretty face. Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release of the film needed a little more TLC in the A/V department, but even so, the audio commentaries make it a must-own for comedy fans.
- Tim Salmons