Cabin in the Sky
|Cabin in the Sky|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Vincente Minnelli
Busby Berkeley ("Shine" sequence, uncredited)
|Produced by||Arthur Freed
|Written by||Marc Connelly (uncredited)
Lynn Root (play)
|Based on||Cabin in the Sky (play)|
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson
|Music by||Harold Arlen
|Editing by||Harold F. Kress|
|Running time||98 minutes|
Cabin in the Sky is a 1940 American musical with music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by John La Touche, and a musical book by Lynn Root. The musical premiered on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on October 25, 1940. It closed on March 8, 1941 after a total of 156 performances. Directed by Albert Lewis and staged by George Balanchine, the stage production starred Ethel Waters as Petunia Jackson, Dooley Wilson as "Little Joe" Jackson, Katherine Dunham as Georgia Brown, Rex Ingram as Lucifer Junior, and Todd Duncan as The Lawd's General.
A 1943 motion picture based on the musical was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and released in 1943. The film version of Cabin in the Sky also starred Waters as Petunia and Ingram as Lucifer Junior. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson of Jack Benny fame took over the role of Little Joe, Kenneth Lee Spencer portrayed The General, and Lena Horne co-starred as the temptress Georgia Brown in her first and only leading role in an MGM musical. Louis Armstrong was also featured in the film as one of Lucifer Junior's minions, and Duke Ellington and his Orchestra have a showcase musical number in the film.
Plot summary 
|This section requires expansion. (February 2013)|
- Ethel Waters as Petunia Jackson
- Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson as Little Joe Jackson
- Lena Horne as Georgia Brown
- Louis Armstrong as The Trumpeter
- Rex Ingram as Lucius / Lucifer Jr.
- Kenneth Spencer as The General / Rev. Green
- John William Sublett as Domino Johnson (as 'Bubbles' John W. Sublett)
- Oscar Polk as The Deacon / Fleetfoot
- Mantan Moreland as First Idea Man
- Willie Best as Second Idea Man
- Fletcher Rivers as Third Idea Man (as Moke Fletcher Rivers)
- Leon James Poke as Fourth Idea Man (as Poke Leon James)
- Bill Bailey as Bill
- Ford Washington Lee as Messenger Boy (as 'Buck' Ford L. Washington)
- Butterfly McQueen as Lily
Overview and history 
Cabin in the Sky tells a version of the Faust legend in which Little Joe, a man killed over gambling debts, is given six months to redeem his soul and become worthy of entering Heaven -- otherwise his soul will be condemned to Hell.
Produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Vincente Minnelli in his Hollywood debut, Cabin in the Sky was an unusual production for its time owing to it featuring an all-African American cast. In the 1940s, movie theaters in many cities, particularly in the southern United States, refused to show films with prominent black performers, so MGM took a considerable financial risk by approving the film.
Some remember Cabin in the Sky for its intelligent and witty script, which some claimed treated its characters and their race with a dignity rare in American films of the time. Others, like actress Jean Muir, described Cabin in the Sky's racial politics as "an abomination," arguing that moviegoers should write to the studios when they saw "old stereotypes of Negro caricature" like those in the film. According to liner notes in the CD reissue of the film's soundtrack, Freed and Minnelli sought input from black leaders before production began on the film.
One musical number, in which Horne sings a reprise of "Ain't It the Truth" while taking a bubble bath, was cut from the film prior to release, though it later appeared in a 1946 Pete Smith short subject entitled Studio Visit. As Horne later said in the documentary That's Entertainment! III in which the excised performance was also featured, it was felt that to show a black woman singing in a bath went beyond the bounds of moral decency in 1943. A second (non-bubble bath) performance of this song by Louis Armstrong was also cut from the final print, resulting in the famous trumpeter having no solo musical number in the film.
- "Taking a Chance on Love"
- "Cabin in the Sky"
- "Honey in the Honeycomb"
- "Ain't It the Truth"
- "Love Me Tomorrow"
- "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe"
- "Things Ain't What They Used To Be"
- Cabin in the Sky at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Cabin in the Sky at the Internet Broadway Database
- Cabin in the Sky at the Internet Movie Database
- Cabin in the Sky at AllRovi
- Cabin in the Sky at the TCM Movie Database
- Review at TVGuide.com