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Cabin in the Sky
     

Cabin in the Sky

5.0 2
Director: Vincente Minnelli, Ethel Waters, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Lena Horne

Cast: Vincente Minnelli, Ethel Waters, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Lena Horne

 

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MGM knew it would take a bath on its all-black musical Cabin in the Sky (few Southern theaters of 1943 would touch the film), but the studio still provided its standard A-plus production values to the film; besides, it served as a training ground for up-and-coming director Vincente Minnelli. Based on the Broadway musical by Lynn Root, John LaTouche, and Vernon

Overview

MGM knew it would take a bath on its all-black musical Cabin in the Sky (few Southern theaters of 1943 would touch the film), but the studio still provided its standard A-plus production values to the film; besides, it served as a training ground for up-and-coming director Vincente Minnelli. Based on the Broadway musical by Lynn Root, John LaTouche, and Vernon Duke, the film tells the story of Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson), a shantytown denizen torn between the affections of faithful wife Petunia (Ethel Waters) and slinky seductress Georgia (Lena Horne). Seriously injured in a barroom brawl, Joe dreams that he is the centerpiece of a celestial power struggle between a heavenly emissary (Kenneth Spencer) and Lucifer Jr. (Rex Ingram, who ironically had played "De Lawd" in The Green Pastures). Joe is given another chance to redeem himself on Earth, lest he fall into the clutches of the Devil's little boy. Louis Armstrong briefly shows up, appropriately cast as "The Trumpeter." Song highlights include "Taking a Chance on Love," "Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe," "Life's Full of Consequences," and the title song. A troubled production thanks to the on-set rivalry between Ethel Waters and Lena Horne, Cabin in the Sky is nonetheless an excellent first feature effort from Vincente Minnelli. Thanks to his careful treatment of the material, the expected patronization of the black characters does not impede latter-day enjoyment of the film as much as it might have.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Cabin in the Sky was an auspicious directorial debut for the young Vincente Minnelli and provided Ethel Waters and Lena Horne with an excellent showcase for their considerable talents. Although the film is often criticized for what today are regarded as stereotypical characteristics (e.g., a weakness for gambling, a childish world view, oversimplified religious beliefs, etc.), overall Minnelli treats the story as the simple folktale it essentially is. His finely honed visual sense is evident in the careful compositions he creates for the camera and in the precise attention to detail in the sets and costumes. Minnelli also keeps the pace moving at a nice clip, although he's not afraid to slow things down when necessary -- as when Waters lovingly and deliberately intones the beautiful "Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe." Waters is wonderful throughout, creating a clearly drawn portrait of a woman whose love for two things -- her man and her religion -- will get her through anything. She punches home her laugh lines like the seasoned pro she is and demonstrates in "Taking a Chance on Love," and the title song, why she was one of the finest singers of her day. Horne matches her every step of the way, exuding an exquisite sultriness and demonstrating in her own numbers that hers is not a voice to be taken for granted. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson is a lovable and winning Joe, and the rest of the cast is quite good. The film's surprise critical success helped Minnelli land the job of directing the classic Meet Me in St. Louis the following year.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/02/2016
UPC:
0888574432447
Original Release:
1943
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:39:00
Sales rank:
19,763

Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by Evangela Vincente Minnelli (An American in Paris, Gigi) and stars Ethel Waters, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson; Fayard Nicholas Black Cultural Scholars Todd Boyd and Drew Casper, with Interview Excerpts of Lena Horne; Vintage Pete Smith Specialty Short Studio Visit; Audio only bonus Louis Armstrong "Ain't It the Truth" Outtake; Theatrical Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ethel Waters Petunia Jackson
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson Little Joe Jackson
Lena Horne Georgia Brown
Louis Armstrong The Trumpeter
Rex Ingram Lucius Lucifer, Jr.
Kenneth Spencer Rev. Green, the General
John "Bubbles" Sublette Domino
Oscar Polk The Deacon/Flatfoot
Mantan Moreland First Idea Man
Willie Best Second Idea Man
Fletcher Rivers Third Idea Man, Moke
Leon James Fourth Idea Man, Poke
William Norton Bailey Bill
Ford L. Washington Messenger Boy
Butterfly McQueen Lily
Ruby Dandridge Mrs. Kelso
Ernest Whitman Jim Henry
Hall Johnson Choir Actor
Stewart Nicodemus Dude
Duke Ellington Actor
Archie Savage Dancer

Technical Credits
Vincente Minnelli Director
Harold Arlen Score Composer,Songwriter
George Bassman Score Composer
Roger Edens Score Composer
Duke Ellington Score Composer,Songwriter
Arthur Freed Producer
Cedric Gibbons Set Decoration/Design
E.Y. "Yip" Harburg Score Composer,Songwriter
Hugh Hunt Art Director
Harold Kress Editor
John Latouche Songwriter
Albert Lewis Associate Producer
Joseph Schrank Screenwriter
George Stoll Musical Direction/Supervision
Leonid Vasian Set Decoration/Design
Sidney Wagner Cinematographer
Edwin B. Willis Art Director

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Cabin in the Sky
1. Credits and Fore-word [2:09]
2. Talent for Gambling [3:59]
3. Li'l Black Sheep [2:57]
4. Trouble [3:34]
5. Lucifer Jr. [4:39]
6. The General [4:49]
7. Little Joe's Reprieve [3:08]
8. Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe [3:31]
9. Roll of the Dice [3:09]
10. Cabin in the Sky [6:28]
11. I Hotel Hades Idea Dept [5:13]
12. Georgia Moseys [1:39]
13. Happy Birthday [2:07]
14. Taking a Chance of Love [4:41]
15. News Worth Reading [3:54]
16. Georgia On His Mind [4:49]
17. Life's Full of Consequence [2:01]
18. Petunia's Breaking Point [2:58]
19. Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe Reprise [2:24]
20. Duke at Jim Henry's [3:40]
21. Domino Johnson [1:39]
22. Shine [3:04]
23. Grand Entrance [1:53]
24. Honey in the Honeycomb [1:29]
25. Blossoming Petunia [3:42]
26. Honey in the Honeycomb Reprise [2:21]
27. Stormy Weather [2:44]
28. Devilish Demotion [4:10]
29. Stairway to Heaven [2:41]
30. Taking a Chance on Love Reprise [2:47]

Customer Reviews

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Cabin in the Sky 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even my 12 year old son loves it! A DVD must must must must must be made of this film! Stormy Weather, too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the TV Guide review for Cabin in the Sky before I watched it. The movie was given three out of four stars, but was described as 'dated'. If this movie is dated, then 'Gone With the Wind' is dated. It's a wonder how one movie can be described as dated, yet another movie is described as a 'classic'. 'Cabin in the Sky' is a classic. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will recommend it to anybody.