I’m really dreadful at writing movie reviews. Usually what I wind up saying can best be summed up by, “Wow! It was great! You should see it!” I’m trying to think of what movies I’ve recommended over the life of this blog and I don’t think there have been too many. I do remember Ostrov (if you haven’t seen it – see it) and The Castle. Although they are extraordinarily different films, both emphatically teach spiritual lessons.
Cabin in the Sky is also along those lines. I don’t think you could find a movie more different from the other two than this one but I would recommend it just as highly.
Some background: Cabin in the Sky was originally a Broadway musical which opened in 1940. The film was produced and released in 1943. It was a ground-breaking film (Vincente Minnelli’s first) because it starred an all-black cast and because the characters were not portrayed in degrading ways. Quite a number of big names in music were in the film: Lena Horne and Ethel Waters had starring roles; lesser roles were played by Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Eddie Anderson (who played “Rochester” for Jack Benny) also has a starring role.
The plot (in a nutshell): Little Joe, a compusive gamble, winds up mortally wounded in a barroom fight while gambling. His patient and pious wife Petunia pleads with God for his life because she’s afraid his salvation is in doubt given his lifestyle. He dies and is saved at the last minute from being dragged to Hell by the intercession of angels sent by God in response to Petunia’s prayers. A deal is struck that he will be returned to life and given six months to tip the balance for good before being called to account. Good and Evil fight for his soul during those six months. I hate to give much more because I don’t want to be a spoiler. The very obvious and transparent workings of temptation and conscience are quite a wonder to see and there is a lot of humor involved. The entire movie is not available online but here is a fantastic scene: (Little Joe is recuperating and the gamblers have come to collect a debt. Petunia outsmarts them.)