By Janet Maslin
The New York Times - October, 8, 1981
A sermon in Vernon, Fla.: the minister tells his flock that he began to wonder about the frequent use of ''therefore'' in the Bible. So, he reports, he looked in the dictionary, ''and I found the word to be a conjunction.'' ''Now I had long since forgotten what a conjunction was.'' He looked that up and found that a conjunction connects one thing to another. This led him, in trying to discover what connections Paul used ''therefore'' to make, to find 119 separate uses of the words in Paul's writings. He ends by telling the parish that they have lost peace, ''and you won't gain it back until you have another therefore experience.''
Errol Morris's short film, ''Vernon, Florida,'' is a therefore ex perience in its own right. Mr. Morris has a ssembled interviews with the foremost eccentrics in this very odd town. One man is obsessed with turkey hunting, telling endless stories to explain the turkey feet that adorn his wall and mourning for the birds that got away. Another fellow pronounces a huge, unsig htly turtle ''just a fine piece of meat for the dinin' table.'' A policeman sits in his patrol car, remarking on the way nothing ever happens in Vernon. Another explains how the Lord helped him buy a used van and a parcel of land. And one couple displays a jar of san d, two-thirds full. The sand is growing, they explain, and will fill the jar in about two years' time.
Mr. Morris, whose ''Vernon, Florida'' is his second film - the first was ''Gates of Heaven,'' about pet cemeteries - cuts back and forth among these different parties, establishing a rhythm for Vernon and marveling at the breadth of the townspeople and their whimsy. He lets it all go on a bit too long, but his film is humorous, idiosyncratic and fond. At his New York Film Festival news conference, Mr. Morris came under fire for making fun of his subjects, but that seems not to have been his idea at all. The fancifulness of his subjects is something he appears to appreciate and enjoy.