In his herculean attempt to take comedy, romance and tragedy and blend them into a big, gripping, Negro talker, King Vidor has turned out an unusual picture from a theme that is almost as ancient as the sun. Vidor’s strict adherence to realism is so effective at times it is stark and uncanny.
The story is a plain one, the characters not too many and no fancy long-drawn-out monickers and thus the average screen fan can follow its theme without the slightest difficulty. This is all a big feather in Vidor’s hat.
Nina Mae McKinney as the dynamic, vivacious girl of the colored underworld, who lives by her wits and enmeshes the males by her personality, sex appeal and dancing feet, never had a day’s work before a camera.
Daniel L. Haynes as Zeke, the principal male, is the big, rough, lazylike colored boy, happiest when he sings and who loves his women.
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Victoria Spivey is the blues singer who does a pretty naturalistic bit of acting as the girl who loves and waits. William Fountaine becomes a dominant figure as the heavy, and acquits himself creditably. Fannie Belle DeKnight is the mother of the film, and what a mammy!
A characteristic figure is Harry Gray as the white bewhiskered parson and daddy of the Johnson family.
1929/30: Nomination: Best Director