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Amazing Grace

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Aretha Franklin recorded what turned out to be the biggest selling gospel album in history over a two-night period at the New Bethel Baptist Church in January 1972. The goal was admittedly to sell records, not tickets, but Warner Bros. still decided to send Sydney Pollack and four 16mm cameras to record the historic event. Ms. Franklin later sued to prevent the release of the film. One look and you’ll know why. The only attempt to explain the reason this took longer to release than The Other Side of the Wind can be found in the opening crawl: “The film, because of technical problems, was never finished.” The biggest technical problem involved a director — with six pictures (!) to his credit — whose failure to slate the shots made it impossible to sync sound and picture. Wary of the camera, Franklin has no interplay with the congregation. But when she opened her mouth to sing, Pollack could have filmed through the opposite end of a telescope and it would still be worth a listen. Alan Elliott received a co-directing credit. (2018) — Scott Marks

Rated PG | 1 hour, 58 minutes
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