Vincente Minnelli's debut as a Hollywood director was the first all-black musical since GREEN PASTURES in 1936 and a monument to Ethel Waters in all her glory. Though the film perpetuates racial stereotypes--hardly surprising, given the period in which it was made--it's a fresh, inventive
take on the original Broadway production which showcases a number of prodigious talents.
The story focuses on Little Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson), a gambler who is nearly killed in a bar-room brawl and whose soul then becomes the site of a battle (fought in dream sequences) between God's General (Kenneth Spencer) and Lucifer Jr. (Rex Ingram). This tug-of-war is reflected in...