"Here’s a 67 year-old actress that lets the camera one millimeter from her face. She was wearing make up, no makeup, and sometimes makeup that made her worse. And, you know, just completely no vanity, complete surrender to the world, complete surrender to the material.”
-Darren Aronofsky on Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream.
Elihu Vedder (American, 1836-1923) - Memory, 1870 Paintings
King Vidor’s Hallelujah! was one of the first major films with an all African American cast (The first being Hearts in Dixie released five months earlier). It was considered a risky move for MGM, yet Irving Thalberg supported Vidor’s vison of creating a film that depicted a non-stereotypical view of African American life and culture. When Vidor pitched the project, he said he expected the film would earn no money at the box office, with Thalberg famously replying with “Don’t worry about that. I’ve told you that MGM can afford an occasional experiment.”
The film starred Daniel L. Haynes and as yet unknown Nina Mae McKinney and told the story of Zeke, a cotton-picker, who tries to make a better life for himself, yet is drawn into temptation by the beautiful and vivacious, Chick. Hallelujah! was filmed on-location in “an energetic documentary style” and featured songs written by Irving Berlin. It was also Vidor’s first “talking” film.
The film was was selected for preservation in 2008 for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Art by Gustaf Tenggren (1923) from GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES.