Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post showcases a YouTube video of a rendition of the African American Spiritual "Go Down Moses". That video is a clip from the 1941 American movie "Sullivan's Travels". Information about that movie is also included in this post along with selected comments from that video's discussion thread.
The content of this post is presented for religious, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.
All copy rights remain with their owners.
Thanks to the unknown composer/s of "Go Down Moses". Thanks also to all those featured in this movie clip, and all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publisher of this video on YouTube.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE MOVIE "SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS"
"Sullivan's Travels (1941) is generally considered one of celebrated writer/director Preston Sturges' greatest dramatic comedies - and a satirical statement of his own director's creed. One of his more interesting and intelligent films from a repertoire of about twelve films in his entire career, Sturges' Sullivan's Travels satirizes Hollywood pretension and excesses with his particular brand of sophisticated verbal wit and dialogue, satire and fast-paced slapstick...
This witty journey film from Paramount Studios skillfully mixes every conceivable cinematic genre type and tone of film possible - tragic melodrama, farce, prison film, serious drama, social documentary, slapstick, romance, comedy, action, and even musical, in about a dozen sequences.... The film's title is a vague reference to Gulliver's Travels (Jonathan Swift's satirical 1726 tale of Lemuel Gulliver's fanciful journey into strange, unknown worlds of Lilliputians, Brobdingnags, Houyhnhnms, and Laputians). In addition, the main character John L. (Lloyd) Sullivan was also the name of a well-known cultural figure of the time, deceased sports hero-boxer John L. (Lawrence) Sullivan, the first heavyweight champion of gloved-boxing in the late 19th century.
The film tells of the 'mission' of 'Sully' (Joel McCrea), a big-shot Hollywood director of lightweight comedies to experience suffering in the world before producing his next socially-conscious film of hard times - an epic titled 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' about the common man. [Film-makers Joel and Ethan Coen paid homage to Sturges and his admirable film by naming their own 21st century film O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)] After some failed attempts dressed as a hobo and companionship on the road with an aspiring blonde actress simply called The Girl ... and wearing boy's clothes, he succeeds in losing his freedom, identity and name, health, pride and money. Incarcerated in a prison work camp as the end result of his misadventures, and as part of an audience of chain-gang convicts watching a screening in a Southern black church of a Walt Disney cartoon (starring Mickey Mouse and Pluto), he retains one final ability - - to laugh. He succeeds in understanding that his attitude toward the poor had bordered on patronization. He finally realizes the uplifting power of laughter, and decides to return to his true calling - the making of entertaining comedies to entertain rather than to edify.
...[this] superb film lacked even a single Academy Award Oscar nomination.”...
SHOWCASE VIDEO: Go Down Moses - Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Jorge Curioso, Uploaded on Apr 16, 2008
Jess Lee Brooks performing the classic spiritual. From the 1941 Preston Sturges movie "Sullivan's Travels", starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake.
The song starts at 1:16 in this video clip.
Here are some selected comments from this video's discussion thread. These comments are numbered for referencing purposes only.
"This scene is so ironic! Not only are the black people showing compassion towards criminals the white majority treats as scum, but the criminals are entering a black church in chains."
"this is the best version I've ever heard...it takes me back to the choir in chicago when i was 6..they sang it exactly like this...thank you for bringing back a great memory in my life.."
"this scene is incredible, it's placement in the film is powerful as well. the shot starting at 3:14 is absolutely perfect."
Nellie K. Adaba
"I recently saw this movie on TCM. I love this part of the movie. I couldn't believe it was a comedy when it had some violence in it and the death of a tramp."
"You didn't appreciate the paralel with the song and the situation the prisoners were in? The shots are all wonderfull and very dramatic. A powerfull scene if comprehended.
That's the problem now-a-days, people just don't think about movies anymore, because alot of movies are just. . . nothing. It's there to entertain you in just the most shallow ways possible.
Anyway, sorry about the rant.
But yes! This part of the movie gave me chills too.
"I remember America wouldn't (at first) let the movie be sent to other countries because of the scenes with the homeless casting a "bad" light on america."
"WOW !!! Isn't the speaking voice and the singing voice of Jesse Lee Brooks JUST HEAVENLY to listen to ? Jesse makes the PERFECT Minister for BOTH Black and White folk. And I'm male white. I think it absolutely outrageous that he is not even credited in the film !!! And to think that just three years after acting in this film, Jesse Lee Brooks died : only 54 years old. Far too young ! A film or at least a A&E Biography on this wonderful actor IS LONG OVERDUE !"
"@NECHOII Ya Man! Very much like James Earl Jones, such a commanding presence! Sounds like a man who could lead people with that voice alone. And what a minister he would make."
'I love this scene. And the actor playing the minister is outstanding. His voice is amazing... But it seems to me that the deep voice s a common feature of black people - i.e. Paul Robeson..."
"CALL AND RESPONSE!"
I agree. This is some of the best film making I've ever seen. When the prisoners part to go into the pews, it's like Moses parted the Red Sea."
"@kotorfan8039 Black spirituals are more closely linked or descended from the native music of various African peoples. There is a degree of overlap or influence of European vocal music as far as harmonies and structure, but for the most part the roles of the individual voices as they work together are based on traditional African musics."
"An incredible scene from a fantastic movie made during the golden age of hollywood.."
"Definitely from the time of segregation. The white convicts sat right up front."
"Look at the film again; not all the prisoners were white. Listen to the minister "our guests are less fortunate than us" and that's why he asked them to clear the first 3 rows. He was showing them true Christian fellowship. I thought it was a very touching scene, showing blacks with dignity."
"One black convict entered the church and. presumably, sat with the rest of the convicts. I think guests sat in front but that all misses the point of the clip. This is the strongest plea for racial equality I've ever seen. It must have hit bigots like a thunderclap when they realized - too late - what they were seeing.
I cry every single time I see it."
"Definitely from the time of segregation. The white convicts sat right up front."
"Hollywood didn't know what to lable this movie at all. Eventually they stuck it with a "comedy" sticker, but it can be that but it's so much more.
Having hints of action, comedy, drama, prision film, documentary, ect all these things into one film truly defies description.
An experience like no other."
"that was a beautiful and amazing show of solidarity. Not to mention musically stunning."
"This absolute gem of a scene is yet another stunning example of the extraordinary and discerning talent that was writer-director-producer Preston Sturgess.
A bright comet that shown all too briefly in the sky, he nevertheless bequeathed us enduring cinematic gifts, with "Sullivan's Travels" being perhaps the pinnacle amongst many tall peaks.
(The book Sullivan wanted to make into a picture, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou," inspired the Coen brothers' 2000 film.)
Thank you for posting."
"One of the few positive depictions of black people and racial harmony in an Old Hollywood movie."
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