Review by: Christopher Bligh
Posted on: January 28th, 2012
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Plot: What’s it about?

Once upon a time in the forties, a young up and coming director who would go on to wide praise in many genres took a chance with his feature film debut doing a musical comedy casting all black actors and actresses. Being the first time this was done in a major motion picture, director Vincente Minnelli along with a huge cast and a intriguing tale to tell of the forces upstairs and downstairs to land in that Cabin In the Sky

As Petunia( Ethel Waters), a loving wife and Joe, a husband (Eddie “Rochester” Anderson ) with a habit for gambling are readying themselves for another day, Joe tells the good news to the Reverend before church services are gonna begin, that he intends to give up gambling and start working with a new job as an elevator operator. Things are looking bright until Joe while going off the wagon of gambling get shot, Petunia begs for forgiveness to the Lord to save her husband’s life. Through the course of his rest, he comes across Lucifer and Co. and the Men upstairs but there are clauses and conditions to where he will go after this and there will be choices made.

There’s a feeling of surprise and pleasantness watching this film. From growing up with a father that liked The Jack Benny show, it was a pleasure to watch a film starring Rochester as the lead that wasn’t an average comedy. This was one where the angels and the lucifers battle for one’s soul that only a woman can fight to protect when her man is in a time of need and healing. Much praise goes also to Ethel Waters, who gained fame later on as Beulah on TV.

Cabin In The Sky is a sweet telling of one’s love for another no matter how flawed they may be and the beautiful voices that are heard certainly brought a smile to this viewers face. There is some heart and some things to love about the film and director Minnelli does a fine job even if some of the elements seem dated.

Video: How does it look?

Cabin In The Sky is given it’s first full frame treatment on DVD with impressive results but still evident with a few scratches and specks here and there. The print used has a great bit of clarity to the majority with the night scenes that can use some contrast and come off little grey specks here and there. Nevertheless for a film that’s over sixty years old, it’s a little more than decent but still has flaws evident in the print.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Mono track on this still has evidence of the track and it’s spaces from the early days of sound but it manages quite well with the music coming out satisfactorily and the dialogue coming out clear but a slight choppiness here and there make for a decent track but not a great one. This disc also has English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Cabin In The Sky is given the Warner special treatment with a commentary by two film scholars Todd Boyd and Drew Casper and surviving members of Rochester’s family along with interview excerpts with Lena Horne and Fayard Nicholas. Although the latter ones get their say in the track, it’s Boyd and Casper who dominate for the majority of the track and tell it from an historical and educational point of view that is worthy of a listen.

After that is the nine minute Pete Smith classic short called Studio Visit which goes through the misadventures of work on the different stages of the studio (which includes a scene intended for Cabin but was scrapped for another Lena Horne musical).

After that is an outtake of Louis Armstrong’s performance of Ain’t It The Truth which along with the featurette are small gems.

Lastly is the film’s theatrical trailer.

The battle for the soul can only be won by love and Cabin In The Sky captures it charmingly well and is a delightful addition to any classic DVD collection.

Cabin in the Sky
Not Rated
Vincente Minnelli
98 min.

  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • 1 Disc Set
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy