Hallelujah (film)

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Hallelujah
Illustration of a woman in a short, tight dress dancing with a jazz band below.
Advertisement illustrated by Al Hirschfeld
Directed byKing Vidor
Written byKing Vidor (story)
Wanda Tuchock (scenario)
Richard Schayer (treatment)
Ransom Rideout (dialogue)
StarringDaniel L. Haynes
Nina Mae McKinney
William Fountaine
Music byIrving Berlin
CinematographyGordon Avil
Edited byHugh Wynn
Production
company
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • August 20, 1929 (1929-08-20)
Running time
109 minutes (original release), 100 minutes (1939 re-issue, the version available on DVD)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Hallelujah is a 1929 American pre-Code Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical directed by King Vidor, and starring Daniel L. Haynes and Nina Mae McKinney.

Filmed in Tennessee and Arkansas and chronicling the troubled quest of a sharecropper, Zeke Johnson (Haynes), and his relationship with the seductive Chick (McKinney), Hallelujah was one of the first all-African American films by a major studio. It was intended for a general audience and was considered so risky a venture by MGM that they required King Vidor to invest his own salary in the production. Vidor expressed an interest in "showing the Southern Negro as he is"[1] and attempted to present a relatively non-stereotyped view of African-American life. It is the first "black musical".

Hallelujah was King Vidor's first sound film, and combined sound recorded on location and sound recorded post-production in Hollywood.[2] King Vidor was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for the film.

In 2008, Hallelujah was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." In February 2020, the film was shown at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, as part of a retrospective dedicated to King Vidor's career.[3]

The film contains two scenes of "trucking": a contemporary dance craze where the participant makes movements backward and forward, but with no actual change of position, whilst moving the arms like a piston on a locomotive wheel.[4]

Development[edit]

Years before creating Hallelujah, King Vidor had longed to make a film employing an all-African American cast. He had floated the idea around for years but "the studio kept turning the idea down".[5] Vidor’s luck would change come 1928, while he was in Europe promoting his film, The Crowd, he caught wind of the emergence of audible motion pictures sweeping the nation. This was important because he was very enthusiastic about the idea of having an all-African American cast singing "negro spirituals" on the silver screen, after he had seen the success of it on Broadway. Vidor stated, "If stage plays with all negro casts, and stories like those by Octavus Roy Cohen and others, could have such great success, why shouldn’t the screen make a successful negro play?"[6] Vidor was able to convince Nicholas Schenck, who was the president of MGM at the time, to get the movie made by framing it more as a film that depicted African American’s sexual deviance. Schenck put it simply to Vidor, "Well, if you think like that, I’ll let you make a picture about whores".[7] Vidor received the inspiration to create this film based on real incidents he witnessed as a child during his time at home in the south, where he would observe Black folks. He went on to say, "I used to watch the negroes in the South, which was my home. I studied their music, and I used to wonder at the pent-up romance in them".[8] Vidor began shooting in Arkansas, Memphis and Southern California at the MGM studios.

Plot[edit]

The people inhabit a world of racial paternalism where, partly due to religion, the plantation workers are happy with the status quo. Zeke the plantation boy represents the morally upstanding country boy (the good) against the morally corrupt (due to Hotshot's influence) city girl Chick (the bad) who tempts him from the straight and narrow.[9]

Sharecroppers Zeke and Spunk Johnson sell their family's portion of the cotton crop for $100. They are promptly cheated out of the money by the shill Chick (Nina Mae McKinney), in collusion with her gambling-hustler boyfriend, Hot Shot. Spunk is murdered in the ensuing brawl. Zeke runs away and reforms his life: becoming a Baptist minister, and using his fully name - Zekiel. This is the first example of black character development in cinema.[10]

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 to 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. Zeke spends time in prison for his crime, 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.

Cast[edit]

  • Daniel L. Haynes as Zeke
  • Nina Mae McKinney as Chick
  • William Fountaine as Hot Shot
  • Harry Gray as Parson
  • Fanny Belle DeKnight as Mammy
  • Everett McGarrity as Spunk
  • Victoria Spivey as Missy Rose
  • Milton Dickerson
  • Robert Couch
  • Walter Tait as Johnson Kids
  • and Dixie Jubilee Singers
Uncredited (in order of appearance)
Sam McDaniel Adam, one of the dice players
Matthew "Stymie" Beard Child listening to Zeke's song
Eva Jessye Dancehall singer
Blue Washington Member of Zeke's congregation
Madame Sul-Te-Wan Member of Zeke's congregation
Clarence Muse Member of Zeke's congregation

The music[edit]

The film gives, in some sections, a remarkably authentic representation of black entertainment and religious music in the 1920s, 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". He went on to add that Foster’s music had "the distinct finish and technique of European music, possibly of German Origin."[11]

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." Although actually filmed in a New York studio using black actors, the sequence gives an accurate representation of a low-life black dance-hall - part of the roots of classic jazz. 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.

Reception[edit]

Exhibitors were worried that white audiences would stay away due to the black cast. They hosted two premieres, one in Manhattan and one in Harlem. The black people who came to watch the film in Manhattan were forced to sit in the balcony.[12] 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."[13] Mordaunt Hall,. in The New York Times, wrote approvingly of the all-Black cast, stating, "Hallelujah!, with its clever negro cast, is one of the few talking pictures that is really a separate and distinct form of entertainment from a stage play".[14] The combination of two groundbreaking aspects of the film, audible dialogue and an all-Black cast, really set the movie apart from its contemporaries. Some of the critiques of the film spoke volumes to the particular spirit of the times, and would likely be vastly different today. 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.”[15] It is important to note that at that point in history, this film was one of the early projects that gave African Americans significant roles in a movie and had "a freshness and truth that was not attained again for thirty years".[16]


Hallelujah and black stereotypes[edit]

A number of contemporary film historians and archivists agree that Hallelujah exhibits Vidor’s paternalistic view of rural blacks that included racial stereotyping.[17]

The emphasis these critics place on Vidor’s white prejudice—all the more apparent today “given the enormous changes in ideology [and] sensibilities” since 1929—covers a spectrum of opinions. Vidor biographer John Baxter reports “a now-disconcerting [white] paternalism” that pervades Hallelujah, while movie critics Kristin Thomson and David Bordwell argue that “the film was as progressive as one could expect in the day.” Film critics Kerryn Sherrod and Jeff Stafford agree that “seen today, Hallelujah invites criticism for its stereotypes; blacks are depicted as either naive idealists or individuals ruled by their emotions.” Media critic Beretta Smith-Shomade considers Vidor’s Hallelujah a template for racist and degrading portrayals of "Negras" in the movie industry in subsequent years.[18]

Warner Bros., who own the rights to Hallelujah, have added a disclaimer at the opening of the archive edition:

“The films you are about to see are a product of their time. They may reflect some of the prejudices that were common in American society, especially when it came to the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities. These depictions were wrong then and they are wrong today. These films are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. While the following certainly does not represent Warner Bros.’ opinion in today’s society, these images certainly do accurately reflect a part of our history that cannot and should not be ignored.”[19]

In Hallelujah, Vidor develops his characterizations of black rural workers with sensitivity and compassion. The “social consciousness” of the film and its sympathetic rendering of a tale of sexual passion, family affection, redemption and revenge performed by black actors earned enmity from the Deep South’s white movie exhibitors and the “gripping melodrama” was banned entirely south of the Mason–Dixon line. [20][21][22] Vidor’s film crew was racially mixed, and included Harold Garrison (1901-1974) as an assistant director. Black female choral conductor Eva Jessye served as musical director on Hallelujah; she would later act as music director with George Gershwin on Porgy and Bess (1935).[23]

The overall assessment of the film from film historians ranges from condemnation to qualified praise.

Museum of Modern Arts film archivist Charles Silver made this appraisal:

“On one level, Hallelujah clearly reinforces the stereotypes of Blacks as childishly simple, lecherously promiscuous, fanatically superstitious, and shiftless [yet] Vidor could never be accused of the overt racial venom exhibited by Griffith in The Birth of a Nation...Is there, then, a defense for Hallelujah beyond its aesthetic importance? I think there is, and I think it lies in Vidor’s personality as we know it from his films...Hallelujah can and should be accepted as the remarkable achievement it is.[24]

Media critic Beretta Smith-Shomade asserts that from Vidor’s Hallelujah, there issued forth racist characterizations of black rural figures, in particular “the black hatlot” establishing these stereotypes in both black and white motion pictures for decades.

In these decades before television’s arrival, negras appeared in films as servants, harlots, mammies, tragic mulattoes and religious zealots. The nation’s carefree attitude during the 1920s forwarded the Harlem Renaissance and launched the Colored woman as featured artist on screen. Nina Mae McKinney distinguished herself as the first colored harlot. She played in King Vidor’s Hallelujah sound film, as a Jezebel, of course, bamboozling a good man...Donald Bogle describes McKinney’s character, Chick, as a “black, exotic sex object, half woman, half child...She was a black woman out of control of her emotions, split into by her loyalties and her own vulnerabilities. Implied throughout the battle with self was the tragic mulatto theme; the white half of her represented the spiritual, the black half the animalistic.” [These] screen stereotypes presented themselves in both mainstream and early black cinema. They stood as Negras’ predominant roles.”[25][26][27]

Film critic Kristin Thompson registers an objection to Warner Bros.’ disclaimer attached to its Hallelujah archive edition:

“Unfortunately the company has chosen to put a boilerplate warning at the beginning that essentially brands Hallelujah as a racist film...I don’t think this description fits Hallelujah, but it certainly sets the viewer up to interpret the film as merely a regrettable document of a dark period of US history. Warner Bros. demeans the work of the filmmakers, including the African-American ones. The actors seem to have been proud of their accomplishment, as well they should be.”[28]

Nina Mae McKinney as Hallelujah's “harlot”[29][edit]

Critic Donald Bogle identifies McKinney as the silver screens' “first black whore”, with respect to the role Vidor had fashioned for her in Hallelujah.[30][31][32]

Nina Mae McKinney, coming from the recent stage production of Blackbirds of 1928 brought tremendous vivacity to her role as Chick, the object of Zeke’s desire and victim in the films’ tragic denouement. Theater critic Richard Watts Jr., a contemporary of McKinney described her as “one of the most beautiful women of our time” She was dubbed “the Black Garbo” when touring Europe in the 1930s. Vidor considered her performance central to the success of Hallelujah.[33] [34][35]

Though McKinney was the first to portray a black prostitute, this “archetypal narrative” goes back as far as 1900, when only white female actors played “the fallen woman” who turn to prostitution.

Scores of these films appeared in the silent era with narratives deploring the “plight of women who have fallen on hard times due to unemployment, unwanted pregnancies, divorce, childhood deprivation or simply because they have been ‘born on the wrong side of the track.” Throughout the silent film era, the cautionary tales of woman turning to prostitution had been uniformly presented as shameful and degrading. These Victorian-inspired scenarios, however, were declining at the time of Hallelujah's production, as they were in the industrialized countries globally. As a result “the concept of a loss of chastity leading inexorably to prostitution became no longer tenable.”[36]

The formula that Vidor used for McKinney’s Chick was modeled after conventional scenarios depicting white prostitutes in these earlier films: narratives that were already in decline. Film and social critic Russel Campbell describes the formula:

The prostitute “is likely to die at the end of the film, through suicide, illness, accident, murder or execution (the conventions of Victorian art and literature...ordained that ‘a woman’s fall ends in death’). Otherwise she may survive and save her soul through an act of redemption; frequently she is paired off with a good man whose upright character serves to cancel out the poor impression of the male sex given earlier in the film…for others, death awaits.” [37]

McKinney’s exuberant and highly seductive portrayal of Chick anticipates the change in perception towards female sexual expression. Her performance influenced both black and white actresses with her version of a “rough nightlife heroine”, among them Jean Harlow, a white film star who also engagingly portrayed brothel whores and prostitutes. According to film historian Jean-Marie Lecomte, “prostitutes, ladies of leisure, street walkers, and tramps, as the borderline women of Depression era America, flourished on the Hollywood screen” in the Pre-Code Hollywood following Hallelujah's release.[38][39]

While acknowledging Hallelujah's racial stereotyping, critics Kerryn Sherrod and Jeff Stafford report that “the film set a high standard for all subsequent all-black musicals and still stands as an excellent showcase for the talents of Ms. McKinney and company.” [40][41]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey, ed. (1997). The Oxford History of World Cinema (paperback ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 500. ISBN 9780198742425.
  2. ^ Donald Crafton, The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound, 1926–1931 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 405. ISBN 0-684-19585-2
  3. ^ "Berlinale 2020: Retrospective "King Vidor"". Berlinale. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  4. ^ Blacks in Films, Jim Pines, ISBN 0289 703263
  5. ^ Robinson, Cedric J. (2007). Forgeries of memory and meaning : Blacks and the regimes of race in American theater and film before World War II. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807858417.
  6. ^ "ANOTHER NEGRO FILM: King Vidor Realizes Ambition by Making "Hallelujah," an Audible Picture His Ambition". New York Times. 2 June 1929.
  7. ^ Robinson, Cedric J. (2007). Forgeries of memory and meaning : Blacks and the regimes of race in American theater and film before World War II. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807858417.
  8. ^ "ANOTHER NEGRO FILM: King Vidor Realizes Ambition by Making "Hallelujah," an Audible Picture His Ambition". New York Times. 2 June 1929.
  9. ^ Blacks in Films, Jim Pines, ISBN 0289 703263
  10. ^ Blacks in Films, Jim Pines, ISBN 0289 703263
  11. ^ "ANOTHER NEGRO FILM: King Vidor Realizes Ambition by Making "Hallelujah," an Audible Picture His Ambition". New York Times. 2 June 1929.
  12. ^ Eyman, Scott. The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926-1930. Simon and Schuster, New York: 1997.
  13. ^ Kreuger, Miles (ed.), The Movie Musical from Vitaphone to 42nd Street as Reported in a Great Fan Magazine (New York: Dover Publications), p. 70. ISBN 0-486-23154-2
  14. ^ Hall, Mordaunt (25 August 1929). "Vidor's Negro Film: Hallelujah" Reveals Adroit Blending of Photography and Dialogue". New York Times.
  15. ^ Hall, Mordaunt (25 August 1929). "Vidor's Negro Film: Hallelujah" Reveals Adroit Blending of Photography and Dialogue". New York Times.
  16. ^ Mills, Michael (2011). "Midnight Ramble: The Negro in Early Hollywood Introduction". Modern Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  17. ^ Silver,2010
    Baxter, 1976 p. 43
    Thompson & Boardwell, 2010
    Reinhardt, 2020: Reinhardt quotes Lisa Gotto, critic for the Retrospective at the Berlin Film Festival: Vidor’s film “is not without problems...combining the revolutionary potential of sound technology with a reactionary view of African-American life.”
    Smith-Shomade, 2002 p. 9-10
    Sherrod & Stafford, TMC
  18. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 99
    Thompson & Bordwell, 2010: “It is easy from a modern perspective to dismiss it as racist or dependent on stereotypes. But I think that put in the context of 1929, the film was as progressive as one could expect in the day.”
    Baxter, 1976 p. 43: Vidor’s Hallelujah reveals “a now-disconcerting paternalism...His vision of the black as a mindless hedonist singing the day away may be specious, but it was of its time.”
    Sherrod & Stafford, TMC
    Smith-Shomade, 2002 p. 9-10: “In these decades before television’s arrival, negras appeared in films as servants, harlots, mammies, tragic mulattoes and religious zealots. The nation’s carefree attitude durings the 1920s forwarded the Harlem Renaissance and launched the Colored woman as featured artist on screen. Nina Mae McKinney distinguished herself as Nina May McKinney, “executing sensuous bumps and grinds in the famous cabaret in Hallelujah was the movies’ first black whore.... She played in King Vidor’s Hallelujah sound film, as a jezebel, of course, bamboozling a good man...[These] screen stereotypes presented themselves in both mainstream and early black cinema. They stood as Negras’ [sic] predominant roles.”
  19. ^ Thompson & Bordwell, 2010: “Hallelujah is available on DVD from the Warner Brothers Archive Collection. Unfortunately the company has chosen to put a boilerplate warning at the beginning that essentially brands Hallelujah as a racist film.”
  20. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 98-99: “Vidor’s sympathetic interest in Southern blacks...”
    Thompson & Bordwell, 2010: Vidor “acknowledged that a gripping melodrama could be just as entertaining with an all-black cast as an all-white cast. That is, entertaining to those outside the deep South, where exhibitors refused to play the film, robbing it of its chance to become profitable.”
    Sherrod & Stafford, TMC: “As expected, Hallelujah was banned by the Southern Theater Federation…”
  21. ^ Lecomte, 2010, p. 13-14: “William Wellman displayed a social consciousness that could only be matched by mavericks such as King Vidor, Charlie Chaplin or Orson Welles, all of whom eventually paid a heavy price for it... He understood the mind of underdogs – and like King Vidor – felt sympathy for them.
  22. ^ Reinhardt, 2020: “Vidor demonstrates his powerful humanitarian approach and his opposition to racism...In Hallelujah, Vidor sincerely and evocatively reveals the emotional world of his characters, [confirming] universal, complex sentiments.”
  23. ^ Thompson & Bordwell, 2010: “The crew was racially mixed, including an assistant director, Harold Garrison, who was black. More importantly, the musical director, responsible for the many musical numbers, was Eva Jessye, the first widely successful black female choral conductor. A few years later she would participate in the premiere of Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s Four Saints in Three Acts, and alongside George Gershwin, she was musical director for Porgy and Bess.
  24. ^ Silver, 2010
  25. ^ Smith-Shomade, 2002 p. 9-10
  26. ^ Eagan, Daniel (2010). America's film legacy : the authoritative guide to the landmark movies in the National Film Registry ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). New York: Continuum. ISBN 978-0826429773.
  27. ^ Smith-Shomade, Beretta E. (2002). Shaded lives : African American women and television. New Brunswick, NJ [u.a.]: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0813531052.
  28. ^ Thompson and Bordwell, 2010
  29. ^ Smith-Shomade, 2002 p. 9-10
  30. ^ Bogle, 2001 p. 31: Nina May McKinney, “executing sensuous bumps and grinds in the famous cabaret in Hallelujah was the movies’ first black whore....”
  31. ^ Smith-Shomade, 2002 p. 9-10: “...first colored harlot“ in Vidor’s film.
  32. ^ Bogle, Donald (2001). Toms, coons, mulattoes, mammies, and bucks : an interpretive history of Blacks in American films (4. ed.). New York, NY [u.a.]: Continuum. ISBN 978-0826412676.
  33. ^ Bogle, 2001 p. P. 31, p. 33: “Nina May McKinney, “executing sensuous bumps and grinds in the famous cabaret in Hallelujah was the movies’ first black whore....Almost every black leading lady in motion pictures owes a debt to the playfully sexy moves and maneuvers of McKinney’s character Chick.” And: McKinney “emerged as the first black actress of the silver screen.” And "Vidor [acknowledged] that it was McKinney’s performance that more than any other actor’s helped carry Hallelujah to its success... “ M-G-M was so impressed they signed her to a five-year contract.”
  34. ^ Reinhart, 2020: “Nina Mae McKinney, only 17 or so at the time of filming Hallelujah and a remarkable performer, appeared in the Broadway show Blackbirds of 1928.”
  35. ^ Thompson & Bordwell, 2010: “... Nina Mae McKinney, also coming from a stage career...”
  36. ^ Campbell, 1999: “...the key elements in what was to become [a] recurrent tale, depicts the woman who descends into prostitution – to which a negative sign is almost invariably attached – as a figure of pathos.” And: “Poverty may be the primary factor in the decision to venture into prostitution, as in Out of the Night (USA, 1918)...The Painted Lady A(USA, 1924), The Red Lily (USA, 1924), The Salvation Hunters (USA, 1925), and The Joyless Street(Germany, 1925).” And: “In most industrial and post-industrial societies...these [Victorian] premises were well under way to obsolescence by mid-century. As a result, the concept of a loss of chastity leading inexorably to prostitution became no longer tenable. Most films with a fully-developed fallen woman pattern were in fact produced prior to 1940.”
  37. ^ Campbell, 1999: “
    Campbell, 1999: “In the representation of the female prostitute in the cinema, the earliest archetypal narratives to emerge are those of the fallen woman and the white slave...tracing the fate of the innocent young woman lured into forced prostitution….[I]t carried a powerful appeal throughout the silent era but tailed off during the early years of sound...”
  38. ^ Campbell, 1999: “Complicit to an indeterminate extent in her downfall, the fallen woman in the cinema often has a sense of fun which mitigates her newly acquired cynicism.”
    Lecomte, 2010, p. 1-2: “A spate of ‘vice films’ ...was released during the pre-Code years. Prostitutes, ladies of leisure, street walkers, and tramps, as the borderline women of depression America, flourished on the Hollywood screen of the period. The figure of the prostitute in film drama is largely a cinematic artifact and cannot be primarily construed as a countersign of reality.”
  39. ^ Bogle, 2001 p. 33-34: “...rough nightlife heroine…”
    Sigal, 1964: In Hell’s Angels Jean Harlow plays an “amoral girl-on-the-town (whore) who puts out for the RAF.”
    James, 1993: “In Red Dust (1932)...[Harlow] is a prostitute and Clark Gable runs a rubber plantation.”
  40. ^ Sherrod & Stafford, 2010
  41. ^ Thompson & Bordwell, 2010: “Well established as a classic of both early sound cinema and African-American cinema, Hallelujah retains its entertaining quality. It is easy from a modern perspective to dismiss it as racist or dependent on stereotypes. But I think that put in the context of 1929, the film was as progressive as one could expect in the day.”

References[edit]

External links[edit]