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Green Pastures

Rex Ingram , Oscar Polk , Marc Connelly , Roy Mack    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 59.55
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Product Details

Product Description


"Gangway for de Lawd God Jehovah!" Despite racial stereotypes and a naive, backward vision of "Negro Heaven," The Green Pastures remains an important, controversial, and still-entertaining milestone in African American popular culture. Because this 1936 spiritual musical embraces all of the black stereotypes that were prevalent in its time, Warner Home Video has appropriately included a disclaimer regarding the political incorrectness of the film's then-common racial prejudices, stressing the importance of acknowledging these stereotypes as opposed to pretending they never existed. With this understanding, The Green Pastures still endures as a classic American folk drama, based on Marc Connelly's Pulitzer Prize-wining Broadway production (suggested by Roark Bradford's southern sketches "Ol' Man Adam an' His Chillun"), in which several Old Testament stories are performed as they might be imagined by black Sunday-school child in the Depression-era South. It's an all-black vision of heaven as a perpetual fish-fry, full of black angels and cherubs eating catfish and smoking 10-cent "see-gars," where "De Lawd" (Rex Ingram) presides over the tales of creation: Noah and the Flood; Joshua at Jericho; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Adam and Eve; Moses and Pharaoh; etc. With heavenly accompaniment by the Hall Johnson Choir, these Bible stories play like a lavish fantasy revival, and while the stereotypical images and all-black colloquialisms may seem absurdly regressive from the perspective of latter-day enlightenment, there's no denying that The Green Pastures is still a transcendently joyful celebration of faith. As a relic of its time, it's a vivid (and for some, still uncomfortable) reminder that racial stereotypes--even in a joyful gospel context--can teach us a lot about where we've been, and where we've yet to go. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD
The Green Pastures is accompanied by an excellent DVD commentary in which actor/director LeVar Burton and African American cultural scholars Herb Boyd and Ed Guerrero (author of Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film) place the film in proper historical context. Burton candidly explains why he could never watch Green Pastures in its entirety until he gained the detached perspective of an actor/director, while Boyd and Guerrero relate many of the precedents and milestones that inform such '30s-era movies as The Green Pastures and Cabin in the Sky. Entertaining and informative, their commentary is essential listening for anyone seeking an enlightened perspective on racial stereotypes of the past. Also included, for similar historical appreciation, are two Vitaphone shorts from the early 1930s: "Rufus Jones for President" is a lively "two-reeler" (20 minutes) in which the 7-year-old future Rat Pack star Sammy Davis Jr. sings and dances (along with blues great Ethel Waters) as a young boy who fantasizes about becoming President of the United States. "An All-Colored Vaudeville Show" delivers just what the title promises: a stage revue of black performers including Broadway star Adelaide Hall and the legendary tap-dancing Nicholas Brothers. Both shorts represent all that was good--and bad--about Depression-era show business as a vibrant showcase for African American performers and the social conditions through which they endured. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Nov. 27 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I keep watching this film over & over again. It displays some of the very best cinematography in Black & White film making, I have ever seen.The film encompasses; Drama, comedy, visualizations & tremendous conversation of the old time south. The feeling of watching the all African - American cast, in a true southern depiction & context, is compelling to me. This is the time before the media introduced a rediculous control over what we, as Americans, can watch & enjoy as main stream filming.
I would love to see this & other classics of it's time being replayed on todays television a lot more frequently. To me, todays black film makers are to reluctant to create films of life, in much lesser, simpleminded & wholesome environment. I recommend for all ages,to be a " must see " motion picture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Please the King! Nov. 6 2003
By Dan
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is a throwback to a better time; a time when political correctness didn't get in the way of a good laugh. It consists of bible stories seen through the eyes of poor Southern blacks in the 1930s. You will roar with laughter as adorable pickaninnies ride clouds in Heaven and Noah debates with De Lawd about how many "kegs o' likka" he can take on the Ark. My favorite scene is when Moses and Aaron confront Old King Pharaoh to demand that he "let the Hebrew chillun' go." Moses is portrayed as a simple yet pious half-wit empowered by De Lawd with a magical walking stick and a few extra IQ points (okay, make that a lot of extra IQ points). You will cheer when he gives the Pharaoh his comeuppance by showing him that you can't out-trick De Lawd. Rex Ingram does some fine acting in his triple roles of De Lawd, Adam, and Hezdrel. The scene where Hezdrel tells De Lawd about how mankind found "moicy" is heart-touching. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone interested in cinema the way it used to be, without the liberal bias and distortions of fact we are subjected to today. So if you'd like an old-fashioned good time, just rare back with a ten-cent ceegar and a bottle of sonny-kick-mammy wine and pop this one in the VCR. It's more fun than a fish-fry in Heaven!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and inspiring Sept. 5 2002
By Tanya
Format:VHS Tape
The first time I saw this movie I was about 15 yrs old and it was being shown late at night on AMC. I stayed up until 6am watching this movie and I have never forgotten it. It depicts the creation of the earth from an African-American perspective. I have searched high and low for this and I feel blessed to have finally found it. I'm hoping that it will be released on DVD soon. Even though I have nearly replaced all my old VHS tapes I will definitly purchase this and cherish it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Green Pastures - Where is the soundtrack June 16 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Having seen this movie on tv when I was 14 years old, I never came to forget it. I've been very lucky finding it here at Amazon and I'm now hoping for this movie to appear on DVD, hopefully with the complete soundtrack featuring The Hall Johnson Choir.
The film really touched me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Triumphant! June 8 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw this movie as a child, probably aged 5 or six, and I'd never forgotten it. For some reason, I had never been able to catch it on t.v., and as the years went by, it became very sketchy in my mind, but still there. Last night, about 44 years after the first time I viewed it, I had the profound pleasure of seeing it again. It was worth the wait.
The cast is spectacular, the sets charming and beautiful. It tells the story of creation, Adam and Eve, Noah ect, with a child-like simplicity. Often hilarious, sometimes very poignant and moving but always reverent, it illustrates what has given African Americans the strength to survive the tremendous struggles we have faced as a people. A simple, steadfast faith in God, who, for many of us, is as real as the sun, flowers, storms, and just as much a part of our every day lives. It is an awesome movie, and one that I think every one should see, at least once.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! Oct. 15 2001
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this movie in the late '70's. I was overwhelmed by it as a
teenager. I taped it off t.v. several years later. It was hard
finding the correct name. I now own a legal copy!
I had the pleasure of showing my parents this movie in '99 before they passed away. The writers take on the creation, as viewed through a black man's eyes was awesome.When God said, let me rare back and pass a miracle." we all just laughed! When God created heaven and earth and there was just too much firmament, I thought we would all need CPR. It is a great family movie!
Thanks for carrying the oldies, Amazon!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hey Al and Jesse: "Oops, Here It Is!" Feb. 26 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
My wife and I were searching the channels when I came across this gem! This is probably the funnest piece of cinema next to the "The Nutty Professor", "The Klumps" and "The PJ's". I laughed so hard I nearly wound up in the ER! Let us all raise our chalices and toast "Da Lawd"! Get this video before Bill Cosby pulls it off the market like he did with "The Little Rascals" and "Amos and Andy"!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why isn't this on DVD? Feb. 5 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the greatest movies of all time in my opinion. I am very pleased it has lasted and not been blacklisted like Disney's 'Song Of The South'. The black cast does speak with an overly Southern accent of the time, and that's what makes this so charming. Rex Ingram is delightful as "De Lawd". Don't miss Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as Noah. ("I guess I can get de animals, Lawd. There was a circus in town last week...")
With every junky new movie coming out on DVD, why hasn't this classic come out?
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