“Back in 1979, Marty Feldman was concerned about the increasing piety of the right wing, the blind susceptibility of their followers, the insatiable reach of American corporations and people like Anita Bryant invoking God’s name in regards to subjugating others,” a friend writes. “I know exactly what he’d make of Sarah Palin today.
Feldman’s In God We Trust, which he directed and co-wrote, bombed with the critics and didn’t sell many tickets. It was also torpedoed, sand-bagged and dis-owned by its own distributor, Universal Pictures.
It’s a religious satire about an innocent monk (Feldman) who leaves his monastery and is corrupted by a televangelist — Andy Kaufman‘s Armaggedon T. Thunderbird — who spoke directly to God. Commonly known as ATT, he lives in a residence that resembles the Oval Office, and makes his ultimate intentions known during a Christmas Eve broadcast.
The above YouTube clip is that Xmas Eve sequence which, I’m told, very few have seen unaltered.
“Marty, thanks to the success of his previous film, had secured the rights to final cut from Universal. But Uni honcho Lew Wasserman hit the roof when he saw these scenes, especially how parent company’s name MCA was used, and demanded it excised. Marty refused, despite Ned Tanen’s warnings there would be serious repercussions.
In God We Trust “was dumped without fanfare in October of 1980. Marty’s rich overall deal was cancelled three days later and he was booted off the Universal lot. He was labeled a pariah around town as a writer and director for the impertinence of biting the corporate hands that fed him. It was pretty much career suicide for him behind the camera.
“The companies and organizations referenced were livid at their inclusion. Universal used music rights as an excuse to alter the film for its few late night TV airings.
“Here is Marty’s prophetic vision of fundamentalist groups, the religious right, teabaggers and the analogous behavior they inspire. You’ll note the followers sharing the stage with Andy’s character are all suspiciously blonde and blue-eyed.”