Green Pastures

Green Pastures

4.0 5
Director: Marc Connelly, William Keighley

Cast: Marc Connelly, William Keighley, Rex Ingram, Oscar Polk

     
 

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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 hisSee more details below

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.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/22/2013
UPC:
0883316690819
Original Release:
1936
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Region Code:
0
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:33:00
Sales rank:
27,306

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
James Fuller Cain the Sixth
George Randol High Priest
Ida Forsyne Mrs. Noah
Ray Martin Shem
Charles Andrews Flatfoot
Dudley Dickerson Ham
Billy Cumby Abraham,King of Babylon,Head Magician
Ivory Williams Jacob
Ernest Whitman Pharaoh
Reginald Fenderson Joshua
Slim Thompson M.C./Man on Ground
Hall Johnson Choir Actor
David Bathea Aaron
Al Stokes Cain
Clinton Rosemond Prophet

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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