“Look, son: the Lord has sent an angel to show you the way.”
A humble cotton farmer (Daniel Haynes) is seduced by a gambling vamp (Nina Mae McKinney), then repents for his sins by becoming an itinerant preacher.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- African Americans
- Deep South
- Femmes Fatales
- King Vidor Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this landmark all-black film — made and financed by white director King Vidor — is actually rather dull. In addition, it “established many negative black stereotypes that would become common in the white cinema”, and “was the first to contend that black people were happy living in isolation (from whites), in ignorance, and in poverty because they have religion to fall back on.”
Nonetheless, the film is worth checking out for its historical status, as well as to see Nina Mae McKinney’s truly electric performance as a wily femme fatale — a “hip-swaying, sexually uninhibited tigress” who “would serve as [a] model for numerous black vamps in years to come, including those played by Dorothy Dandridge.”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Nina Mae McKinney as the beautiful, seductive, deceptive Chick
- Mammy Johnson (Fannie Belle DeKnight) singing a lullaby as she rocks one of her children to sleep
Yes, simply for its status as the first all-black film to come out of Hollywood.