On deck: an all-black musical

This upcoming Friday night the Cinematheque continues its series of films directed by Vincente Minnelli (which began this past Friday with a rousing screening of Meet Me in St. Louis) with Minnelli’s directorial debut: 1943’s Cabin in the Sky. This film, adapted from a Broadway musical written by Lynn Root, features an all-black cast, placing it in a quirky tradition that includes Otto Preminger’s adaptation of Carmen Jones (1954) and King Vidor’s Hallelujah! (1929). But what really sets Cabin in the Sky apart, at least on paper, is its arsenal of actors (and musicians serving as actors) whose names ought to ring a few bells: Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Ethel Waters and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson. It’s always a pleasure to see such iconic figures assembled and doing their thing on the silver screen; but to see so many of them, especially in a cinematic rookie’s first feature-length effort, is a rare opportunity. Just can’t enough of those musicals, all-black or otherwise.

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