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The Folk Musical and Hallelujah!'s all-black cast

by Kate Fortmueller

In the folk musical the music is often motivated by the emotion of the scene rather than the setting (for example, in the backstage musical the music is motivated by the stage). King Vidor's 1929 musical Hallelujah is an early example of the folk musical form. From a technical perspective, this musical was a challenge since the film was shot silent and the music was added later. The all-black cast was also non-professionals. Vidor described the cast as untrained actors that were naturally emotional and religious, and that they were un-self-conscious performers (more given to performance than white actors). This sequence demonstrates the emotional and religious fervor that Vidor referenced. While the all-black cast is unusual for U.S. studio films in the 1920s, King Vidor's comments (and the folk musical form which affirms the spontaneous outbursts of emotion) ultimately perpetuate racist stereotypes.

Hallelujah! (1929) - Zeke leaves with Chick

In this sequence Chick seduces Zeke into leaving his followers.

from Hallelujah! (1929)
Creator: King Vidor
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Posted by Kate Fortmueller