Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

A Good, Clean High 

Before the Jesus phone: The God soap

Wednesday, Jul 11 2007
Once upon a time, only major historical figures like Thomas Edison or Earl Warren were considered worthy documentary subjects. Nowadays, it's enough to be a major-league kook (see Timothy Treadwell in Grizzly Man and Burt Pugach in Crazy Love). This week's model is Dr. Emanuel Bronner, a German-Jewish chemist who immigrated to the U.S. in 1929. He developed a peppermint "pure-Castile" multipurpose liquid soap after the war that, two decades later, found its way into every hippie's bathroom. It was (and is) a fine product, but an essential part of its allure was the label, crammed with microscopic, mysterious text spouting Bronner's All-One-God philosophy. Sara Lamm's Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox is an entertainingly loopy portrait of the most eccentric figure in American household-products history -- the FBI labeled the good doctor a psycho case, and who could disagree with the expert analysis of J. Edgar Hoover's boys? But the film also achieves more: When it shifts focus to Bronner's odd-duck son, who now runs the company, Dr. Bronner's strikes some unexpectedly poignant chords.

About The Author

Michael Fox


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"