Anyway, though, it turns out that Scarecrow had a VHS of it (well, of course they did, they're Scarecrow), and so I was able to rent it and watch it. And, well, so I did, particularly after seeing Grizzly Man, which was, of course, excellent and as such moved "Must See More Herzog!" up the list significantly of Things To Do.
The quality of the tape (which came from 5 Minutes to Live as well, actually – although I'm not sure whether or not the DVD they have now is a copy of their VHS tape or perhaps the PAL VHS that Herzog himself is selling) was… not so hot actually. It was actually a video recording of the film being projected – complete with projector noise. Which I suppose was nice in that it recreated the atmosphere of seeing a rare film in a dark church basement or something. (Not that I've ever done that; mainly because I think the films I'd be seeing there would be odd in a church basement.) Unfortunately, though, it was a little distracting and ended up making some of the silent scenes go a bit slower, since instead of being uncomfortably silent, you just heard the "CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK" of the projector at full-bore. (Which seemed a little odd, honestly, since I thought I lot of projectors like that had audio-outs, like a 1/4" out or something. Although I haven't spent a lot of time around those kinds of projectors, honestly. This is something I need to rectify, though.)
Still, though, this film was great and definitely worth seeing. It is a little bit slow to get started (although I think part of that is that for the first 10 minutes, I was getting acclimated to the projector noise; when I saw the first bit again, I could understand the dialogue and such much better than I could before), but once it gets going, it GOES. Unfortunately, it's too short – only 44 minutes – and it feels a little chopped off. I thought before that it was about an hour, and I think that would have been a better length for it.
Gene Scott himself comes off as charismatic and intelligent, but 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 actually is rather touching. He also explains that he has no private property or any privacy at all – the only thing he has that's "his" is his black bag. He won't reveal the contents (but makes a strange comment about how when he dies, he hopes the government thugs choke on the salivation they'll be doing to get in there), but says he hopes people think it's something like 10 million dollars in Gold Bars – even though it could be that or dirty socks. (paraphrasing here). Now that he has died, I wonder if they'll release what it actually WAS in there (assuming it's not Marcellus' soul).
The main highlights from the film are when they show clips from his show; my favorites are the point when he refuses to talk until he gets $1000 more – he sits silently for a really long time, and then gets up to berate the audience… which actually brings in the money, and then he yells at them for having to wait for him to yell at them instead of just sending the money out of God's Love, and the "FCC Monkey Band" sequence which basically just has to be seen. No amount of explaining I could do could really aptly convey what's going on in that scene.