Sadly, based on current knowledge, not a single film from this period was produced or helmed by Black women. These were films aimed at attracting larger groups of minorities through all-inclusive casts of African-Americans and Chinese-Americans.
Hollywood studios made two films that year, Hearts in Dixie and Hallelujah. Many of the films featured in are deemed lost rendering it impossible for contemporary viewers to see them. My focus will tighten largely on Hallelujah , the most famous of that year and most accessible to watch.
Hallelujah was met with mixed reviews for its portrayal of African-Americas during its release to the public. The same mixed feelings then has and will continue to permeate contemporary audiences today. Hallelujah and Hearts in Dixie distinguished themselves through two important attributes. Mutually, these films were directed by white men with careers already established in Hollywood. The first twenty minutes or so of Hallelujah is very hard to swallow. His idea got turned down by studios every time he mentioned it.
Once sound hit Hollywood in with The Jazz Singer , Vidor seized the opportunity to make his dream film a reality. He so strongly believed in his concept that when studio executives feared the lack of revenue for not attracting enough white audience members, Vidor offered to forgo his own salary to make the film. The studio reluctantly allowed him to make Hallelujah.
But, while some reviewers praised the film after its release others condemned it. As one New York reviewer said of the film to Amsterdam News :. At first glance, Hallelujah seems to uphold all those old stereotypes of African-Americans which is bittering and indignant to witness. Once we leave the cotton fields Vidor invites audiences into the homes of the African-American family we are following.
They sit for a meal of chitilins and spare ribs and their oldest son, Ezekiel Haynes , brings out a banjo while the family engages in an after dinner jig with the youngest of the family tap dancing on tables as they all sing together. Now right here, it was very hard for me to continue watching.
These caricatures have gotten singed into the general consciousness of society for decades. A white man who grew up with an African-American matriarch in his home, Vidor admitted in an interview that he wanted to dedicate the film to the woman who was more of a mother to him than his own Manchel, Though his portrayals are cringe worthy they speak of the time period in which Vidor grew. At 34 years old he made Hallelujah based off the experiences he had in adolescence.
In that 30 year period a world of change developed quickly for the Northern half of the country due to Reconstruction and The Great Migration. These moments of cringe worthy portrayals exist throughout the film due to the melodrama of the film itself, but they stop feeling like caricatures and start developing into what they were intended to be; representations of life in the South overdramatized by music in an era when sound boomed in Hollywood.
A scene in particular that caused me to squirm in discomfort came when Ezekiel irrepressibly forces a kiss on Ms. Yet, again Vidor crushes these expectations by making the object of his desire a Black woman and immediately Ezekiel regrets his impassioned actions and apologizes to Rose. This act of passion is foreshadowing for the situations that happens to Ezekiel later finds himself from not being able to control his emotions. This is the scene where the representation of African-Americans expands shifting the focus and that unsettling feeling I initially had throughout the start of the film.
Vidor has no shame in focusing on the beauty of McKinney through close-ups of her face, legs, and keeping her centered in the action. His inability to control his emotions causes him to shoot a character and painful regret he endures turns him into a man of God. In a notable scene, Ezekiel, now a preacher, rides into town on a donkey where hordes of people celebrate and welcome his arrival.
Her likable persona bursts through the screen exuding a confident strength brimming in sensuality. He allowed her talent to shine throughout the film granting her moments of exuberant expression and dramatic flair showcasing her ability to simultaneously titillate and break hearts during her numerous crying scenes. Unfortunately for McKinney her career quickly fizzled just as she appeared to be glowing bright. Sometime later, he returns and preaches a rousing revival. After being ridiculed and enticed by Chick, Zekiel becomes engaged to a virtuous maiden named Missy Victoria Spivey , thinking this will ward off his desires for the sinful Chick.
Chick attends a sermon, heckling Zekiel, then asks for baptism but is clearly not truly repentant. During a rousing sermon, Chick seduces Zekiel and he throws away his new life for her. Months later, Zeke has started a new life; he is working at a log mill and is married to Chick, who is secretly cheating on him with her old flame, Hot Shot William Fountaine. Chick and Hot Shot decide run off together, just as Zeke finds out about the affair, Zeke chases after them.
The carriage carrying both Hot Shot and Chick loses a wheel and throws Chick out, giving Zeke a chance to catch up to them. Holding her in his arms, he watches Chick die as she apologizes to him for being unable to change her ways. Zeke then chases Hot Shot on foot. He stalks him relentlessly through the woods and swamp while Hot Shot tries to escape, but stumbles until Zeke finally catches and kills him.
Hallelujah! In Hollywood book. Read 2 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. It's hard to believe that one family can endure so much and. It's hard to believe that one family can endure so much and still survive. But, that's exactly what the Gadson family did amidst their life in Hollywood. It's not the.
Zeke spends time in a work camp, breaking rocks. The movie ends with Zeke returning home to his family, just as they are harvesting their crop. Despite the time that has passed and the way Zekiel left, the family joyfully welcome him back into the flock. The film gives, in some sections, a remarkably authentic representation of black entertainment and religious music in the s, which no other film achieves, though some of the sequences are rather Europeanised and over-arranged.
For example, the outdoor revival meeting, with the preacher singing and acting out the "Train to hell," is entirely authentic in style until the end, where he launches into Irving Berlin 's "Waiting at the End of the Road". Similarly, an outdoor group of workers near the beginning of the film are singing a choral arrangement of " Way Down Upon the Swanee River " written by Stephen Foster , who never went anywhere near the South.
Supposedly, according to Vidor himself in an interview given to the New York Times, "while Stephen Foster and others were inspired by hearing negro songs on the levees, their music was not at all of the negro type".
A sequence which is of vital importance in the history of classic jazz is in the dancehall, where Nina Mae McKinney performs Irving Berlin 's "Swanee Shuffle. Most Hollywood films of the period sanitized black music.
Given the equipment available at the time the film's soundtrack is a remarkable achievement, employing a much wider range of editing and mixing techniques than was generally used in "talkies" of this period. Hallelujah was commercially and critically successful. Photoplay praised the film for its depiction of African Americans and commented on the cast: "Every member of Vidor's cast is excellent. Although none of them ever worked before a camera or a microphone before, they give unstudied and remarkably spontaneous performances.
That speaks a lot for Vidor's direction. Some of the critiques of the film spoke volumes to the particular spirit of the times, and would likely be vastly different today.
Food Cupboard Confectionery. Video Expand the sub-menu. Stars: Daniel L. His mother cheats the face of death more than once and Gadson himself shares what it feels like to have loved and lost - all while the power of his mother's prayer saves him and his family. Rate This. A scene in particular that caused me to squirm in discomfort came when Ezekiel irrepressibly forces a kiss on Ms.
In The New York Times , Mordaunt Hall writes about how "in portraying the peculiarly typical religious hysteria of the darkies and their gullibility, Mr. Vidor atones for any sloth in preceding scenes. Although revered in its innovative production style and inclusion of an all-African American cast, history later revealed the negative implications which would follow in the coming years.
Due to its grossly stereotypical roles and portrayal of the African American, the film only really helped to contribute to the culture of diminishing the African American experience. According to Kevin K. Gaines at the University of Michigan , "Guided by southern apologists for lynching the execution of persons without benefit of trial by mobs , many whites, regardless of income or education, viewed the aspirations of black men and women through the warped lens of crude racial and sexual stereotypes that accused all blacks of criminality and immorality.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. A King Vidor Production. Daniel L.
This section reads like a review rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. Please help improve this article to make it neutral in tone and meet Wikipedia's quality standards. October The neutrality of this section is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page.
Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met.