While the bits about the exaggerated sexuality of the black male are undeniably racist, the film as a whole is fascinating. Part morality play, part documentary and part wishful folkloric nostalgia, the lighting, the stilted acting and the organic music all work together to produce an atmosphere like in no other film I know.
It's so awesome watching a movie like "Hallelujah" that wears its melodramatic heart on its sleeve, and yet avoids mawkishness and is actually quite moving. That's helped along by some absolutely fabulous music, like "At The End of the Road." Nina Mae McKinney as the teasing hussy Chick is an instant favorite, and Haynes is a commanding presence, both in his regular dialogue and his singing, as the man who can't seem to keep himself on the straight and narrow until the bodies pile up. That was actually the only thing "wrong" with "Hallelujah," that the ending wasn't nearly as severe as you would expect. An endearing musical that features some quality acting, absolutely fabulous music and a vivacious energy that keeps it from seeming at all "aged." The production values are understandably dated, but this movie's spirit and energy carry over incredibly well to the present, 81 years after "Hallelujah" was released. NOTES: The music *accompanies* the action in this movie, so no need to worry about all the story and dialogue being stated through song. I'd say it's a 65/35 split, dialogue over music. Also, that still above was not in the movie. The actor on the left does play Zeke, but he is never threatened with a long rifle.