The Green Pastures

( 5 )

Overview

The Green Pastures began life as a group of "revisionist" Biblical stories titled Ol' Man Adam and His Chillun, written in exaggerated Negro dialect by white humorist Roark Bradford. These Old Testament stories were purportedly told from the point of view of an elderly black Sunday School teacher, who translated the Biblical prose into words that his congregation "untutored black Christians" was Bradford's description could readily understand. Thus, "De Lawd" behaves very much like a Southern black Baptist ...
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Overview

The Green Pastures began life as a group of "revisionist" Biblical stories titled Ol' Man Adam and His Chillun, written in exaggerated Negro dialect by white humorist Roark Bradford. These Old Testament stories were purportedly told from the point of view of an elderly black Sunday School teacher, who translated the Biblical prose into words that his congregation "untutored black Christians" was Bradford's description could readily understand. Thus, "De Lawd" behaves very much like a Southern black Baptist preacher; Heaven is a wondrous bayou-like land of big cigars and eternal fish fries; "Cap'n" Noah is a languid ferryboat skipper who argues with De Lawd over the advisability of bringing along a couple of kegs of liquor on the Ark; and the court of the Pharoah is redefined as a "Mystic Knights of the Sea" type lodge hall, with Moses introduced as a "conjure man." It is, of course, a white man's perspective on black life, but both the original "Ol' Man Adam," and the subsequent Pulitzer Prize-winning stage version written by Marc Connelly and retitled Green Pastures, have a lot more clarity, profundity and spiritual reverence than most "serious" Biblical adaptations. In this 1936 film version of the Connelly play, Rex Ingram is nothing less than brilliant as De Lawd, speaking the most ludicrous of lines with dignity and quiet authority. Others in the all-black cast include Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as Noah, Frank Wilson as Moses, George Reed as Rev. Deshee, and Oscar Polk as Gabriel, who has the film's single most stirring line: "Gangway! Gangway for de Lawd God Jehovah!" Unlike many other so-called racist films of decades past, The Green Pastures nearly always charms and captivates its modern-day audiences; even the most adamant of "P.C" advocates will probably thoroughly enjoy the experience. Playwright Marc Connelly is credited as director of Green Pastures, as he was for the original stage version, but co-director William Keighley and director of photography Hal Mohr deserve most of the credit for the film's strong cinematic sense.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
There's no getting around it: Whatever one may think of its virtues, Green Pastures is bound to insult and/or discomfort many modern viewers because of its use of a black dialect and oversimplified depiction of African American characters. For many, these flaws can't be overcome, but if one is able to look past them, he will find Pastures to be a sweet, gentle and loving film that is quite winning. It's also one of the few Hollywood "Bible" pictures that seems to have a genuine religious center to it; true, the stories are interpreted in a context that is totally at odds with their original setting, but this is done with an eye toward making them accessible. On the whole, Pastures is much more successful at conveying a genuine sense of religious feeling than the overblown epics that are more typical of the motion picture industry's take on the Bible. Pastures is also noteworthy for its marvelous cast, and it's a treat to witness these black actors given the rare chance to shine. Rex Ingram is first rate in a trio of roles, his powerful voice and winning manner put to very good use. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson finds plenty of comedy as Noah, Oscar Polk is a delightful Gabriel and Frank Wilson scores strongly as Moses. There's also the added bonus of the Hall Johnson Choir, which sounds appropriately heavenly throughout.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/22/2013
  • UPC: 883316690819
  • Original Release: 1936
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Region Code: 0
  • Time: 1:33:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 18,610

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rex Ingram Adam, Hezdrel
Oscar Polk Gabriel
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson Noah
Frank Wilson Moses
Abraham Gleaves Archangel
George H. Reed Mr. Deshee
Myrtle Anderson Eve
Edna M. Harris Zeba
Jimmy Fuller Cain the Sixth
George Randol High Priest
Ida Forsyne Mrs. Noah
Ray Martin Shem
Charles Andrews Flatfoot
Dudley Dickerson Ham
Billy Cumby Abraham, Head Magician, King of Babylon
Ivory Williams Jacob
Ernest Whitman Pharaoh
Reginald Fenderson Joshua
Slim Thompson M.C./Man on Ground
The Hall Johnson Choir
David Bathea Aaron
Clinton Rosemond Prophet
Al Stokes Cain
Technical Credits
Marc Connelly Director
William Keighley Director
George J. Amy Editor
Milo Anderson Costumes/Costume Designer
Henry Blanke Producer
Marc Connolly Screenwriter
Stanley Fleischer Art Director
Sheridan Gibney Screenwriter
Hall Johnson Score Composer
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Score Composer
Hal Mohr Cinematographer
Allen Saalburg Art Director
Jack L. Warner Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    NOT Politically Insensitive -- Gorgeous Film

    The first reviewer of this film called it "Politically Insensitive", but went on to, not once but twice, refer to African-Americans as "Negroes". Makes you wonder. Anyway, this is a gorgeous film, very rarely on cable, and Definitely worth a look.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Wonderful Bible Story

    If you can look past the outdated stereotypical characters, this is one of the best Bible Stories ever to grace the silver-screen. Not only is the plot true to the Holy Word, it captures what may truly be God's feelings and viewpoint of how the whole thing went down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2004

    Not PC, but very close to my childhood in a Southern Baptist chruch

    First saw this film in the mid eighties - it's a must see, if it's still available in b/w that's the way to see it - you pay attention to the story and not the fact that the color is off. I'd highly recommend this to anyone with small children and you're just not sure they're understanding what's happening in Sunday school.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2004

    politically insenstive

    such a stereotypical movie could never make it today. it is a lampoon of negroes. i saw this picture when i was 12 years old. it cast a pall over me for days. i just knew negroes were not typical as shown.it is interesting to note/see that such a pic was made 'that way' see it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2004

    An Unkown Classic

    This misunderstood film is a charming telling of classic bible stories told from the point of view of (rural) Black Americans at the early part of the 20th century, with an all star cast.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews