6.8/10
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37 user 28 critic

Hallelujah (1929)

Passed | | Drama, Musical | 20 August 1929 (USA)
Trailer
1:37 | Trailer
A sharecropper decides to become a preacher after falling for a vamp from the city.

Director:

King Vidor

Writers:

Wanda Tuchock (scenario), Richard Schayer (treatment) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Daniel L. Haynes Daniel L. Haynes ... Zeke
Nina Mae McKinney ... Chick
William Fountaine William Fountaine ... Hot Shot
Harry Gray Harry Gray ... Parson
Fanny Belle DeKnight ... Mammy
Everett McGarrity Everett McGarrity ... Spunk
Victoria Spivey Victoria Spivey ... Missy Rose
Milton Dickerson Milton Dickerson ... Johnson Kid
Robert Couch Robert Couch ... Johnson Kid
Walter Tait Walter Tait ... Johnson Kid
Dixie Jubilee Singers Dixie Jubilee Singers
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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 »

Genres:

Drama | Musical

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An advertising poster for this film is pictured on one stamp of a set of five 42¢ USA commemorative postage stamps honoring Vintage Black Cinema, issued 16 July 2008. Other films honored in this set are Black and Tan (1929), The Sport of the Gods (1921), Princesse Tam-Tam (1935), and Caldonia (1945). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Parson: [Family surrounding the wagon with cotton crop destined for the market] Let us give thanks for our success this year. Let us kneel right down here. We is most thankful for this bountiful crop, oh Lord.
Mammy: Yes sir!
Parson: And we trust you won't be offended if we just ask one favor more. *Please* Lord, let us get a good price for our cotton.
See more »

Alternate Versions

MGM also issued this movie in a silent version, with Marian Ainslee writing the titles. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 53rd Annual Academy Awards (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Go Down Moses (Let My People Go)
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Henry Thacker Burleigh
Sung offscreen during the opening credits
See more »

User Reviews

Jagged, but a jem through and through
21 July 2004 | by Kieran_KenneySee all my reviews

I probably don't need to go into the historical facts about this movie or the plot, as this had probably been expunded in numerous other comments. Personally I think that Hallelujah is a beautiful and powerful film, sympathetic to African Americans, and I think it's remarkable that it was produced at all.

Hallelujah is a huge production, with hundreds of extras. The cast was made up of mostly unknowns. Cast members like Fally Belle McKnight and Victoria Spivey apparently never made any other films, and leads Daniel L. Haynes and Nina Mae McKinney were obviously getting started. The cast is very good, I thought, especially Spivey (a veteran of the stage) as Rose. Haynes is okay in the beginning, seeming a little uneven in his role as well-meaning rogue Zeke, but the final scenes allow him to prove the commanding presence he could muster as an screen presence. Nina Mae McKinney is a power-house. A short, curvy beauty with an interesting voice, she has something of a young Myrna Loy. In fact, I just recently saw a still from a Loy film called The Squall where Loy looks an awful lot like McKinney.

Movies like Hallelujah are an acquired taste. When I first saw it, I was distracted by the crudeness of the sound, the jagged editing and the overall unevenness of the movie. Sure, two or three years later, Hollywood was turning out glossy productions like Red Dust and Blond Venus, with highly polished editing, clear sound and more mobile camera-work, but this is 1929. Sound film-making techniques had yet to be smoothed out. The crinkles of a young process actually add charm to this film, if you know to expect them.

I'll admit as well that, when I first saw Hallelujah, I was irritated by the voices. There's a lot of screeching from the women, and a great deal of mumbling as well. A second viewing, though, allows one to see past these "irritating" aspects and appreciate the voices for what they are. This way, Fanny Belle McKnight's agonized cries of sorrow and her singing the children to sleep is more touching than it is grating.

It's hard to know what else to say about the film. For all it's shortcomings, it's a touching film, lyrical even. I think it's a wonderful production, and I doubt it would not have been made much differently by a black director. Plus, one must agree, King Vidor was a far better craftsman than Oscar Micheaux. 9/10


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 August 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hallelujah See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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