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Hallelujah (Sous-titres franais)
Made in 1929, Hallelujah is an artifact of no small historical significance: the first major studio movie with an all-black cast and a white director (the esteemed King Vidor), it was also one of the earliest "talkies" after the silent film era. But it also has considerable artistic merit; simply put, Hallelujah is damned entertaining. Sure, the story isn't exactly subtle, a morality tale chronicling the tribulations of Zeke (Daniel L. Haynes), a poor cotton farmer who, succumbing to the carnal charms of the sexy Chick (Nina Mae McKinney, who was sometimes known as "the black Garbo"), finds himself caught up in a soul-scarring cycle of sin and salvation. There's also some painful dialogue of the "Where is you gwine?" and "Honey, I likes anything you's got!" variety. But the major themes presented here--temptation and transgression, redemption and repentance--are pure and universal, the dancing and singing (including two songs by Irving Berlin) are marvelous, and there are several scenes of extraordinary intensity. Those include Zeke's family's weeping, wailing response to the tragic death of his younger brother, followed by the repentant Zeke's turning to God, a sequence in which he's transformed into a latter day Martin Luther King, Jr., preaching with rhythms and cadences of hypnotic power. DVD extras include audio commentary by historian Donald Bogle, plus two shorts ("Pie, Pie Blackbird" and "The Black Network") featuring McKinney's singing, Eubie Blake's music, and the Nicholas Brothers' dance moves. A final note: Victoria Spivey, who portrays Missy Rose, the down home girl devoted to Zeke, was also one of the finest blues singers of the time. When she underwent a career revival in the early 1960s, she formed a record label whose first recording featured accompaniment by none other than Bob Dylan. --Sam Graham
Top Customer Reviews
The story is about peace,sin,death,redemption and finally peace again;life in full circle,as experienced through a totally black perspective.No whites appear at any time in the film;a plus or minus depending on your perspective.It opens with the strains of "Swanee River" and concerns the story of Zeke(Dan Haynes)who lives on a cotton plantation with his family,Mammy(Fanny DeKnight),Father/Parson(Harry Gray),Spunk,his brother(Everitt McGarrity)and Missy Rose(Victoria Spivey).After a particularly successful crop of cotton is picked Zeke is off to the cotton mill to sell it,with Spunk.With $50 in hand a dancer,Chick(Nina Mckinney) catches his eye.Before he knows it he is playing a crooked game of craps with her compatriot and boyfriend Hot Shot(Bill Founatine).A scuffle ensues and Spunk who has been searching for Zeke arrives on the scene just as shots are fired,and he dies enroute home.
Zeke is beside himself and is too ashamed to attend his brothers' funeral.His pastor father comforts him with words of Grace and Zeke becomes reborn.Zeke now "Ezekial the Prophet" travels the countryside on a train,preaching the good Word to all who will listen and performing baptismals in nearby rivers.At one such stop Chick resurfaces with Hot Shot in tow,who set into beratting him as he passes(riding ala' Jesus on a donkey!).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The first all-African American feature film ever made, "Hallelujah !" was also King Vidor's first "talkie", and one that he was willing to forfeit his salary... Read morePublished on April 24 2004 by Alejandra Vernon
I need to find a copy of this video as soon as possible. i am writing a senior project on Nina Mae McKinney for college and i would really like to see this film. Read morePublished on April 9 2001
I found this movies finally @ Movies Unlimited if you need more information..please post a message to me on this page and I will get the information to youPublished on Jan. 8 2001
I saw this movie when I was a child some 30+ years ago and a couple of times during"Black history month" on AMC and TNT. Read morePublished on Dec 22 2000
I love watching old black classics movies I have been looking for this movie for the past 2yrs. This is a very excellent move. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2000
This movie is just what I needed to see -- all all-black cast movie with "old-time" religious theme.
The music is excellent. Read more