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The Green Pastures (1936)

Approved | | Drama | 1 August 1936 (USA)
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God, heaven, and several Old Testament stories, including the Creation and Noah's Ark, are described supposedly using the perspective of rural, black Americans.

Writers:

Roark Bradford (suggested by: Southern Sketches "Ol' Man Adam and His Chillun'"), Marc Connelly (a fable by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rex Ingram ... De Lawd / Adam / Hezdrel
Oscar Polk ... Gabriel
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson ... Noah (as Eddie Anderson)
Frank H. Wilson Frank H. Wilson ... Moses (as Frank Wilson)
George Reed ... Mr. Deshee
Abraham Gleaves Abraham Gleaves ... Archangel
Myrtle Anderson Myrtle Anderson ... Eve
Al Stokes Al Stokes ... Cain
Edna Mae Harris Edna Mae Harris ... Zeba (as Edna M. Harris)
James Fuller James Fuller ... Cain the Sixth
George Randol George Randol ... High Priest
Ida Forsyne Ida Forsyne ... Noah's Wife
Ray Martin Ray Martin ... Shem
Charles Andrews Charles Andrews ... Flatfoot (as Chas. Andrews)
Dudley Dickerson ... Ham
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Storyline

God, heaven, and several Old Testament stories, including the Creation and Noah's Ark, are described supposedly using the perspective of rural, black Americans.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 August 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Auf grüner Aue See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The part of "De Lawd" was originally written to be played in blackface by Al Jolson. When that fell through, it was offered to Paul Robeson, who refused it. It was eventually given to Rex Ingram. See more »

Goofs

When Noah is loading animals onto the ark, 4 sheep enter, not 2. Genesis 7:2 says that Noah was to board 2 of every "unclean" animal and 7 of every "clean" animal. Sheep are considered "clean." See more »

Quotes

Gabriel: Gangway for the lord god, Jehovah!
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Clean Pastures (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Rise and Shine
(uncredited)
Traditional spiritual from Jubilee and Plantation Songs (1897)
Performed by the Hall Johnson Choir
See more »

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User Reviews

 
From The Mind Of A Child
17 January 2011 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The origins of The Green Pastures are from the anthology of stories published by writer Roarke Bradford who entitled his volume Ol Man Adam An' His Chillun. Written in 1928 it was adapted into a play by Algonquin Round Table member Marc Connelly and for an incredible 640 performances during the height of the Depression. In 1936 Warner Brothers purchased the rights and did this film version of the play utilizing a whole load of black players in the film colony.

The Green Pastures got two revivals on Broadway, but you don't hear of it being revived in the post Civil Rights era. It hasn't had the staying power at all of Porgy and Bess which had similar origins.

The story is told from the eyes of a child in a rural black church's Sunday school who is hearing the story of Genesis and imagining what the people would be like in her mind. De Lawd is played by Rex Ingram and this would become two of his career roles, the other being the genie in The Thief Of Bagdad. Personally I can imagine him being God far better than George Burns.

The characters of the Bible are for these people invested with a lot of human qualities, more like the Greek and Roman deities of antiquity than the traditional white Christian view. My favorite scene is the one where the only good man in a world awash with sin is that preacher Noah played by Eddie Anderson. When Ingram visits him and tells him he's starting over and to build an ark and take male and female of everything for breeding, Anderson starts haggling with De Lawd over the amount of spirits to be taken on this sea voyage for medicinal purposes only you understand.

Of course the Ark does its 40 days and 40 nights thing and then just sails around until some land starts to emerge. Personally back in those days polygamy was in and I never understood why Noah and the boys didn't have some extra wives along. The task before them might have been fun, populating the earth again, but it sure put a strain on their wives.

A film like The Green Pastures has a childlike innocence about it, it would have to in order to succeed on stage and screen. It's not likely to see any revivals due to changing times and sensitivities. But it remains an entertaining if quaint vehicle today.


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