Classic Film Guide

Green Pastures, The (1936)

Directed by Marc Connelly (based on his play) and William Keighley, this all-Black cast biblical drama includes musical accompaniment by the Hall Johnson Choir. As told to some rural Black Sunday School children (George Reed's character), several stories of the Old Testament Bible are creatively recreated, and somewhat contemporarily realized, in flashback sequences. Rex Ingram plays three characters: De Lawd (God), Adam (Myrtle Anderson plays Eve) in the first sequence, and Hezdrel in the last; Oscar Polk plays De Lawd’s assistant, the angel Gabriel, in the Heaven sequences (in between the others). Abraham Gleaves appears as the Archangel. Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson plays Noah (Ida Forsyne his wife) in the second major flashback sequence; Frank Wilson plays Moses and Ernest Whitman plays Pharaoh in another. Al Stokes plays Cain, who De Lawd catches shortly after he'd killed Abel. James Fuller plays Cain the Sixth, who's entertained by Zeba (Edna Mae Harris) playing a catchy tune on the Sabbath - this leads to De Lawd’s idea to flood the Earth. Billy Cumby also plays three roles, including the King of Babylon in the film's final flashback sequence; Clinton Rosemond also appears, as a prophet, in this one. Songs sung by the choir include: Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho and de Walls Came Tumblin’ Down, De Old Ark's A-Moverin’, Let My People Go, Run Sinner Run, Death's Gwinter Lay His Cold Hands on Me, and When the Saints Come Marchin’ In.

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