This is our 50th post! That, however is not why this review is special. It's a movie review!
Not just any movie either...one of the first black major motion pictures.
What movie has Ethel Waters, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, amazing music, the first moonwalk on film (way before MJ), and zoot suits? (Why don't guys wear those anymore?!) Cabin in the Sky!(1943)
Based on the Broadway musical by Lynn Root, John LaTouche, and Vernon Duke, the film tells the story of Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson), a shantytown denizen torn between the affections of faithful wife Petunia (Ethel Waters) and slinky seductress Georgia (Lena Horne). Seriously injured in a barroom brawl, Joe dreams that he is the centerpiece of a celestial power struggle between a heavenly emissary (Kenneth Spencer) and Lucifer Jr. (Rex Ingram), who ironically had played "De Lawd" in The Green Pastures). Joe is given another chance to redeem himself on Earth, lest he fall into the clutches of the Devil's little boy. Louis Armstrong briefly shows up, appropriately cast as "The Trumpeter.
This movie was positively swoon-worthy. I am not big on old movies, but this one was tops. While some scenes seemed a bit scattered, the story was still amazing. It was packed with love, devotion, temptation, and the afterlife.
Ethel Waters is magnificent as Petunia. Her devotion to Joe seems real, aside from her fake crying, her entire performance was wonderful to watch. Her singing is phenomenal. It will definitely make you want to look twice at music of the 40's.
Eddie Anderson plays a humorous Little Joe, struggling with temptation, while trying to stay good for his wife's sake and his own. His reactions are great.
Rex Ingram and Kenneth Spencer play off of each other well as the devil's son and an angel, and their rivalry is fun to watch. I found Rex particularly entertaining.
And last but not least...Lena Horne as Georgia. I have a total girl crush on Lena Horne.
I liked her already, because of her role as Glenda in The Wiz, but this movie and Stormy Weather have seriously made me a fan. She is infinitely poised, humorous, and plays the "seductress" role quite well. Not only that, her voice is amazing. It's sweet and pitch-perfect.
Overall, this is a great look into the past. Though it does dabble in the blackface comedy arena (not in the actual appearances of the characters, but in their words and actions), as most old movies tend to do, it is altogether enjoyable to watch and an important part of black culture and history.
Check back later, because I'll also be reviewing Stormy Weather, The Wiz and Wicked, the musical. None bookish, all fantastic.
P.S. Check out its super-old movie trailer!