Sunday, January 29, 2006

Review – Cabin in the Sky

One could do an entire doctoral dissertation on the racial dynamics of this movie. This is a fascinating blend of an all-black cast, Hollywood’s 1940’s approach to black characters, theological twists in the plot and Vincente Minelli in the director’s chair (on his own for the first time). The story alone is worth a look. Little Joe (Eddie “Rochester” Anderson) has a near-death experience and ends up in the middle of a battle between angels and demons for his soul. Lucky for him, his wife Petunia (Ethyl Waters) is so devout that her prayers buy him a little more time to prove that he’s basically a good person. Enter Lena Horne as one of Lucifer’s best temptresses, out to lead our hero astray. But the main attraction here is probably the music. Waters and Horne are terrific, and they’re accompanied by Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong (who also has a supporting role as a devil) and plenty more. And although the dialects and a plot twist or two are very much creatures of their time, at least nobody in this movie picks cotton or works as a maid for white folks. Overall, then, this is a fun movie and historically at least a small step in the right direction. Mildly amusing

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