Oh, God!

Oh, God!

As the only character George Burns could portray who was actually older than he was, the aging comedian brought the Almighty to life in the Carl Reiner film, Oh, God! With a wonderful cast that included singer John Denver as his humble chosen disciple, this 1977 comedy was nothing short of divine.

Denver plays Jerry Landers, an assistant grocery store manager with a simple life and a loving family. Things become less simple when he receives a personal visit from God, disguised as an an elderly cigar-smoking man with a playful sense of humor and gentle demeanor. God has plans for Jerry; he wants him to serve as his messenger, spreading the good word to the populace.

Jerry reluctantly does as he is told, contacting the religious editor of the Los Angeles times to share his story. It’s not long before he starts taking on celebrity status, appearing on the Dinah Shore Show and serving as spokesman for the big guy. Things seem to be going well, but the local religious community is not amused with they assume is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

When a local preacher challenges him to answer a series of written questions to prove his claims (while locked within a hotel room), God shows up to help with the test and directs Jerry to call the preacher a fake. Jerry does so and is promptly sued in court for slander. There’s only one person who can save his hide, and he’s happy to do so.

Larry Gebhart, best known as the creator of the hit television show, M*A*S*H, wrote the funny and provocative screenplay for Oh, God! Despite admonishments from real members of the religious community to stay away from the film, it still managed to earn almost $2 million in its opening weekend alone. Terry Garr was wonderful as Denver’s befuddled wife, while Donald Pleasance, Ralph Bellamy and Paul Sorvino also had memorable roles in the film.

The success of Oh, God! led to two sequels, Oh, God! Book II in 1980, and Oh, God! You Devil in 1984. George Burns reprised his role in both films, but none of the other cast members from the original were anywhere to be found. As such, neither sequels quite captured the charm of the original, which, if nothing else, proved that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

If you were a fan of this 70s film, we hope you’ll share your thoughts on Oh, God! in our comments section below.

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