The Green Pastures

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There is nothing intrinsically offensive about this all-white use of all-black stereotypes to illustrate the artless simplicities of the gospel religion of Deep South slavery. Constructed as a series of Sunday School Bible stories linked by spirituals, it has enormous charm in its folklorish fancies (Heaven as a cushy cotton plantation, Babylon as a dingy backstreet dive), and a performance of great gentleness and good humour from Ingram ('Ain't no bed of roses bein' De Lawd') which is never tainted by the mawkish religiosity that creeps in towards the end. What is offensive is the way in which the depths of plangent suffering that inspired the spirituals are totally ignored. Instead we get white society's wish-fulfilment image of happy Uncle Toms who will be content with their due reward of a ten-cent cigar and a fish-fry in heaven.

Release details

Duration: 93 mins

Cast and crew

Director: William Keighley, Marc Connelly
Screenwriter: Marc Connelly
Cast: Rex Ingram
Oscar Polk
Eddie Anderson
Frank Wilson
George Reed
Myrtle Anderson
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