Sunday Go to Meetin' Time (1936) Poster

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Not Bad At All
Jgittes8827 December 2002
Nicodemus sneaks out of church, only to find himself knocked unconcious by a fence post. He awakens in the devil's court, and has to "give the devil his due". The cartoon isn't really racist at all, except for a scene in which a mom is putting shoe polish on her child's head. The rest of it really celebrates African-Americans as singing, happy folks, and isn't ment to be malicious. Then again, it might not appeal to everyone, but it was made 66 years ago (almost 67), and things have changed. Worth seeking out.
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8/10
In a courageous instance of colorblind casting . . .
tadpole-596-9182563 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
. . . Warner Bros. Studios was at least a century ahead of its time in this all-Black remake of Charles Dickens' normally white-bread tale, A CHRI$TMAS CAROL. (Some narrow-minded professional agitators have tried to use SVNDAY GO TO MEETIN' TIME as just another focal point for their crass campaign of grand-standing race-baiting witch-hunting, but think about it: MOONLIGHT incorporates EVERY anti-Black stereotype in the book with which to assault its all-Black cast, but this is somehow "okay" because a few of its crew members happen to be Black themselves; the Majority-Black Oscar voting Electorate which is left after the Black Czarina threw out every White Oscar Voter over the age of 30--or shredded their ballots upon arrival, which achieves the same result--anointed MOONLIGHT as "Best Picture" of 2016, even though Black Lives Matter would have prevented the 13,471 people who actually PAID to see MOONLIGHT inside a movie theater from being able to accomplish that tedious task IF this exact same flick had been foisted off upon the Public by an all-White crew!) Consequently, IF the landmark SVNDAY GO TO MEETIN' TIME had been released in 1936 by an all-Black crew, it would be hailed every February as it kicked off Black History Month as the epitome of a warts-and-all Cultural Exploration capturing a Moment in Time of a key American Demographic.
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6/10
Sunday Go to Meetin' Time is one of the Censored 11 that has some entertainment value
tavm26 May 2008
This was the second, in chronological order, of the Censored 11 Warner Bros. cartoons I've watched on Thad's Animation Blog. Sunday Go to Meetin' Time has the stereotypical drawn caricature of African-Americans with big white lips as well as the Stepin' Fetchit prototype in leading character Nicodemus. A really offensive scene has a mother putting shoe polish on her bald kids' heads then the father shining them on the other side. Other than that, this was a pretty entertaining musical cartoon about the leading character going to Hell and back. That Friz Freling directed this should come as no surprise since his musical shorts are usually some of the most entertaining. Worth a look for any animation buff who's aware of certain time period acceptance of certain stereotypes.
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6/10
I only watch it for its historical value. In this day and age, historical value is the only value this cartoon even has!
animalxingluvr24 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I am 19 years old, white, Canadian, female and I suffer from mild autism and Asperger's. Many people know I am a WB cartoon fan. Personally I call myself something a bit more than that but that's beside the point. This cartoon, featuring a black man who would rather steal chickens than go to church, reminds the viewer how important it is not to get on the bad side of the one thing Christians (notice I said Christians, as I am well aware it isn't the only religion in the world) respect most: God. You want to end up in the place you deserve to be part of, and for most people that's heaven. Not Nicodemus, at first. His sins, as read out by the demon judge, are "Shootin' craps, stealin' chickens, missin' church, raisin' dickens," although he doesn't mention that Nicodemus also steals watermelons. Nicodemus then meets the devil and gets beat up by demons using pitchforks, before waking up and realizing he's actually in a yard with the chickens he had tried to steal. By now he has learned this valuable lesson and runs for the church.

This cartoon is part of the Censored Eleven and, like the rest of the cartoons, it has historical value but it is obvious why these cartoons are banned from television. For Pete's sake, even the demons are in blackface. It's a good thing America eventually got tired of black stereotypes!!! They're not looked kindly upon today, that's for sure.

This cartoon is not enjoyable as most WB cartoons are, and in my opinion the only reason the Censored Eleven, including Sunday Go to Meetin' Time, are not completely forgotten today is because they teach us how stupidly cruel and disrespectful society was back in the day.

I give this cartoon a 6 out of 10 because the only people who should watch this are the people who have a lot of interest in history, animation, or both.
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5/10
racist material can still function as a time capsule
lee_eisenberg6 August 2007
While it's true that "Sunday Go To Meetin' Time" contains very stereotypical portrayals of African-Americans, it appears that the people behind the cartoon were actually taking some interest in African-American culture. The cartoon has a man skipping church, but then getting knocked out and dreaming that Satan sentences him to eternal damnation for his misdeeds. Personally, I'd rather go out and entertain myself than spend all day in any religious institution. Maybe I'd go out and watch a movie (in religious people's minds, it would easily get me sent to Hell if the movie starred someone like Elke Sommer; if so, then Hell here I come!).

But I digress. This cartoon is worth seeing, just as long as you understand the offensive content.
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4/10
A Racially Charged Aesop
Vimacone6 November 2017
One of the staples of WB cartoons of the 1930's was a character doing something unlawful, and experiencing some form of punishment for it, and then learning his lesson (or not). This title follows that formula.

However, this cartoon is more known today for it's racist imagery and negative stereotypes of African Americans. It's almost a catalog of common stereotypes and ignorant perceptions people had of African Americans in the pre-civil rights era. It's hard to believe that people actually found these things funny. This has made it a difficult cartoon to see for many years and for good reason. The only redeeming value this short has is the title song, which is catchy.

What's interesting about this short, is that the sequence in Hades could have easily have been very frightening along the lines of PLUTO'S JUDGEMENT DAY (1935). I wonder if that was the case when it was shown in the 30's and 40's. At least, it doesn't come across as very frightening, but that's probably because the stereotypes are more prominently noticed nowadays. The cartoon WHOLLY SMOKE, which was released two years later, conveyed the theme of a character learning their lesson through a frightening nightmare much more effectively.

The only real value this early WB cartoon has is as an example of how ignorant people used be and how African Americans were once portrayed in the early decades of cinema. These films should not be forgotten and should given a small degree of accessibility to film students and historians, but otherwise do not belong on syndicated television.
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4/10
Decent premise executed pretty forgettably
TheLittleSongbird27 October 2016
Most notable for being one of the cartoons from the group "Censored 11", cartoons withheld from syndication for being deemed as having offensive content, 'Sunday Go to Meetin' Time' is not one of the worst, being better than 'Angel Puss'.

It is also not as racist as 'Jungle Jitters', 'Angel Puss' and 'All This and Rabbit Stew', in fact apart from one bit, the portrayal of its stereotypes and the character designs 'Sunday Go to Meetin' Time' is one of the tamer ones from the group. However, it takes a decent if very familiar premise of a character going to hell but executes it in a less than memorable or imaginative manner.

Not as dull as 'Angel Puss' or 'Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land', but when it comes to the "Censored 11" cartoons there are a few that still entertain hugely such as 'Goldilocks and the Three Jivin' Bears' and 'Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs', a level that 'Sunday Go to Meetin' Time' never quite reaches.

The best thing about it is the music score, it's not Carl Stalling but it's still lively, characterful and beautifully orchestrated stuff that fits very well. Most of the animation is also very fluid and detailed with lovely use of colour. There are a few amusing moments, such as the citing of the charges, which is the most imaginative the premise gets.

On the other hand, the premise could have been more imaginatively and energetically handled. It just lacked zip and doesn't do much new with a premise done to death in cartoons and much more memorably, not enough stands out here. There are amusing moments certainly, but they come sporadically and sharper timing generally would have helped to make it more consistent. While it has been said that there are far more offensive cartoons in the "Censored 11" group, it is easy to see why 'Sunday Go to Meetin' Time' is seen offensive enough to withhold it from being distributed.

There is one scene that is racially offensive, which involves shoe polish, that scene was just not in good taste not just for now but back then too. The very exaggerated character designs are grotesquely and unnecessarily ugly, and the characters are stereotypes not painted in a good light, if nowhere near as objectionable as the likes of 'Jungle Jitters', 'Tin Pan Alley Cats' and 'All This and Rabbit Stew' as prime examples of the "Censored 11" cartoons.

In conclusion, forgettable cartoon with moments but could have done much more with a decent if familiar premise. 4/10 Bethany Cox
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4/10
"You've got to give the Devil his due."
utgard1413 January 2016
Merrie Melodies short, directed by Friz Freleng, notable today for being one of the Censored Eleven. For those who don't know, the Censored Eleven are cartoons that were withheld from syndication because they were considered to be too offensive due to their use of racial stereotypes. This cartoon's story takes place in a small, sleepy town on a Sunday morning. Various black characters happily head to church, singing and dancing along the way. One of them, Nicodemus, sneaks away so that he may steal chickens. In the course of his chicken-stealing attempt, he manages to knock himself out and has a nightmare that he goes to Hell. When he awakens he rushes to church, seemingly having changed his ways.

I believe those involved with this short probably thought they were telling a colorful, harmless story with a nice moral lesson, using minstrel imagery and stereotypes that weren't considered offensive at the time (at least in the mainstream). Now, of course, this is something that's difficult for many of us watch and certainly difficult to enjoy in the way it was intended. These things can be hard to rate fairly but I'll try. The depictions of blacks are grotesque but, otherwise, the animation is solid for the time. It's hard to judge color and sound quality when this hasn't been released in any kind of cleaned-up condition that I'm aware of. Overall, racism aside, it's a forgettable short that was pretty typical of the kinds of cartoons that were being produced at the time by Leon Schlesinger. If you're an animation buff you'll want to see it and the other shorts on the Censored Eleven list. Most people won't want to see this and children certainly shouldn't be exposed to it until they are old enough to understand the context and history behind it. I should also add that, while watching this makes me uncomfortable, I'm against locking it away and pretending it doesn't exist. That doesn't help anything.
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