Cabin in the Sky (1943)
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Cabin in the Sky is a rare treat, a black cast musical from the '40s, and it's a real charmer, devotional in spirit, like a church choir come alive to tell a story, with great songs, fun dance numbers, and an unexpectedly apocalyptic climax. The conceit is a fantastical one, angels and devils vying for the soul of an inveterate gambler who's willing to repent and reform for the love of his pious wife. He's given a reprieve after getting shot, and from there, supernatural entities that only we can see play try to sway him and others to their side. There's both comedy and drama in the premise, and while the very end hasn't aged well in terms of tropes, it still works in the context of the story. African-Americans got so little representation in old Hollywood that even the slightest negative or caricatured portrayal would draw criticism, but I feel the film is balanced between the baddies and the goodies, that it has a lot of love and sympathy for all its characters, and that the ultimate message is an elevating and universal one.
Devilish Satchmo playes a mean trumpet
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #8 in BFI's 100 Film Musicals
This movie ranks #275 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?