One of the first all-black films by a major studio, it is an understatement to say Hallelujah! (1929) is a controversial film. Seen by contemporary audiences and critics as a triumph for race relations by director King Vidor; today it can be viewed as dated and somewhat racist depicting some characters as simple or simply promiscuous. No matter how you rate the film, no one can argue that Hallelujah! is visually brilliant and full of Vidor's touches. Plus, if you consider that most of the film's actors were newcomers to the camera, Vidor's instruction and vision becomes even more noteworthy. And as a longterm Nina Mae McKinney fan, I couldn't help but stare at her beauty and charisma and ignore every other actor in shot.
Thankfully, despite the passing of over 85-years, several interesting and revealing backstage stills remain of the actors and production crew making Hallelujah! in rural Tennessee and Arkansas. Check them out (and for more backstage stills from other Precode films go here):
King Vidor having a break with Daniel L. Haynes
Nina Mae McKinney and Daniel L. Haynes with King Vidor
King Vidor and Daniel L. Haynes clap for Victoria Spivey
An emotive still from
Publicity stills of Nina Mae McKinney in a costume from Hallelujah!
King Vidor (right) discusses the film's music with an actor
King Vidor and two young actors from
Fanny Belle DeKnight, Harry Gray, Nina Mae McKinney, Daniel L. Haynes and King Vidor
A group shot on the set of Hallelujah!
King Vidor with several young actors
King Vidor directs an actor
Daniel L. Haynes hugs Nina Mae McKinney
King Vidor and the film production crew on location during the making of the picture
Nina Mae McKinney teasing King Vidor with Daniel L. Haynes in the background
Setting up a scene before beginning the shoot