- Rated: Not Rated
- Closed captioning available
- Run Time: 1 hours, 40 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: January 10, 2006
- Originally Released: 1929
- Label: Warner Home Video
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
Performers, Cast and Crew:
USA Today - 05/21/1993
"...The film still rates with APPLAUSE, Hitchcock's BLACKMAIL and Chevalier's THE LOVE PARADE as the best movies of the sound-transitional year..."
The first all-black film produced by a major studio, HALLELUJAH represented the culmination of King Vidor's long-standing desire to do a project dealing with the lives of African Americans, strongly influenced by his childhood experience in Galveston, Texas. The film stars Daniel Hayes as Zeke Johnson, an impoverished young sharecropper living in South Carolina. When he and his brother Spunk (Everett McGarritty) go north to sell their cotton crop, Daniel falls for the seductive Chick (Nina Mae McKinney) without realizing she's a shill for the rigged crap game of her lover, Hot Shot (William Fountaine). Finally grasping the scam, Daniel fights with Hot Shot, but his brother is fatally shot during the struggle.
The grief-stricken Zeke is reborn as a preacher, traveling the country, spreading the word of the Lord. The cynical Chick appears among the congregation at one of his revival meetings and finds herself moved by his sermonizing. After Daniel baptizes her in the river, the couple elopes, and he finds work in a sawmill. But Chick's innate restlessness will again create problems for her new husband. Although now somewhat dated, the film was probably the closest approximation of African-American life put onscreen up to that time. The film's outstanding, meticulously researched soundtrack, ranging from jazz to spirituals, derives from the director's lifelong affinity for such music.
Description by Warner Home Video:
Hallelujah is a cinematic milestone: the first all-black feature from a major studio and famed director King Vidor's (The Champ, The Big Parade) first talkie. But the film surpasses its historical significance, telling a story of such profound dignity and understanding that it as fresh and moving as the day it premiered.
Featuring a largely unknown cast and infused with spirituals, folk songs, blues and jazz (Irving Berlin provided two songs for the production), Hallelujah follows the fortunes of Zeke (Daniel L. Haynes), a poor cotton farmer. He succumbs to the temptations of Chick (Nina Mae McKinney), a mercenary honky-tonk girl, finds salvation in religion, and falls again when his obsession for Chick overpowers his better self. Love, loss, passion, redemption and brilliant moviemaking: Hallelujah has it all.
This pioneering musical tells the tragedy-laced tale of a naive farmer who falls for a deceitful beauty.
- Theatrical release: August 20, 1929.
- Shooting locations: Memphis, Tennessee; Texas; and Arkansas.
- In his autobiography A TREE IS A TREE and in interviews, King Vidor talked about his exposure to black culture. Since his father owned a sawmill where he employed many African Americans, Vidor was exposed to the culture at an early age.
- To quiet MGM's doubts about the film's commercial viability, Vidor provided a third of the film's budget himself.
- Blues legend Victoria Spivey appears as Missy Rose.
- HALLELUJAH and HEARTS IN DIXIE were the first two all-black musical features to be produced in Hollywood. Several years elapsed before another all-black musical feature was made in Hollywood.