Hallelujah (1929)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Musical  |  20 August 1929 (USA)
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In a juke joint, sharecropper Zeke falls for a beautiful dancer, Chick, but she's only setting him up for a rigged craps game. He loses $100, the money he got for the sale of his family's ... See full summary »



(scenario), (treatment), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Daniel L. Haynes ...
William Fountaine ...
Harry Gray ...
Everett McGarrity ...
Victoria Spivey ...
Milton Dickerson ...
Johnson Kid
Robert Couch ...
Johnson Kid
Walter Tait ...
Johnson Kid
Dixie Jubilee Singers


In a juke joint, sharecropper Zeke falls for a beautiful dancer, Chick, but she's only setting him up for a rigged craps game. He loses $100, the money he got for the sale of his family's entire cotton crop. His brother Spunk is mortally wounded in the shoot-out which follows. Zeke goes away but returns as Brother Zekiel the preacher. His forceful preaching draws the faithful in large numbers. Even Chick wants to be saved. Zekiel has asked the pretty Missy Rose to marry him, but Chick can still cast a spell over the preacher... Written by David Steele

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


REALISTIC! EARTHY!...it pictures in dialogue and heart-stirring song the reckless love and the gripping drama of the Southern Negro...come to the dusky cabarets....the revivals and the baptisms. (original ad) See more »


Drama | Musical


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 August 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aleluya  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Turner library print) (re-release) (re-edited)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although this film is frequently touted as the first black-cast film produced in Hollywood, it is actually predated by the more obscure Hearts in Dixie (1929). See more »


When Zeke confronts Chick and Hot Shot and strong-arms them in front of the crowd, the shadow of the microphone falls across Hot Shot as he is pushed to the background of the scene and tries to regain his composure. The shadow of the boom is also visible falling across the extras behind him. See more »


Featured in Hollywood Mavericks (1990) See more »


Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
Traditional Spiritual
Sung offscreen during the opening credits
See more »

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User Reviews

A wee bit dated; otherwise a real eye-opener
10 July 1999 | by (NAS Whidbey Island, WA) – See all my reviews

There's something hypnotic about good preaching. All that passion, all that energy, whether it's in film or in person, has a cumulative power. It's hard to doubt the spreading power of religion when you see Daniel L. Haynes (this film) or Robert Duvall ("The Apostle"), or read the sermon at the end of "The Sound and the Fury." Feverishly, they try and communicate God's word. They rant, they rave, they speak quickly and with an undeniable amount of integrity. They get the crowd going, usually in whoops and outbursts, and one man's conversation with God becomes a community event. (Indeed, the power of a worked-up crowd is a powerful tool in and of itself).

That's what's so terrific about King Vidor's "Hallelujah." Everyone's up in arms about one thing or another in this movie, whether it's money, sex, or Jesus. Early in the film there's a rather ludicrous scene where the hero's brother is accidentally killed, due to the hero's folly and hubris. That's his Sin, for which he must Redeem Himself Before God. There's also a woman who represents Temptation, who leads him astray time and time again. In the end there's an extended chase through a swamp, that would be done again in Kurosawa's "Stray Dogs."

All of that's well and good, but the film really peaks during the sermon sequences. Done wrong, sermons in movies usually pass by unnoticed, or are used as a clothsline to hang lame jokes about apathetic churchgoers. Done right, as in this film, "The Apostle," and the most unusual ones in "Beloved," they can be as captivating as if you were really in attendance. It's a testament to the power of the motion picture.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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