HALLELUJAH (1928) Nina Mae McKinney and chorus


[Los Angeles: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1928]. Vintage original 8 x 10″ (20 x 25 cm.) black-and-white glossy silver gelatin photo. Fine.

MGM employed some 340 (the trailer claimed a cast of thousands) Black residents of Los Angeles to fill out the casting of this groundbreaking film, one of the first mainstream all-Black cast movies, and certainly one of the first musicals. Irving Berlin wrote the music. Leading lady Nina Mae McKinney, called the “black Garbo”, is most likely the first film actress to break the stereotypical mold set for Black actresses. She presented a glamorous, romantic, multifaceted leading lady who could act, dance and sing.

She performs in one of the film’s musical numbers for this still coded 394-70.

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