“Compare and contrast” essay - Part 3

Hallelujah was filmed and released in 1929 - “Compare and contrast” essay introduction. It casts an all-black casts and directed by King Vidor for MGM studio. Vidor was nominated for best director for Oscar on this film. The filmed was taken at Tennessee and Arkansas and since the location was far from the studio the voice was later dubbed along with the music. This film was of a musical and drama genre. It depicts the life of the past African-American society in which they still get their part of the cotton harvest from the white Americans. Zeke (Daniel Haynes) is a young farmer who once sold his share of cotton for $100. But Chick (Nina Mae McKinney), a young con-girl saw what he wants from an ignorant looking man, his money. She knew what to do. Chick was pretty lady and for him she was the most adorable girl he had ever seen. She introduced her friend, Hot Shot to bring Zeke into a gambling den to double his money. Being trustful with Chick, Zeke and his brother went with them. But the couples did it again with their cheating which ensued to a brawl and cost the life of Zeke’s brother.

Realizing his mistake and wanted to repent for his brother’s death, he turned himself to God and eventually was made into a preacher. This is where he met Missy, a local and decent girl whom he cared. But Chick and Hot Shot, without any new prospect suddenly came into Zeke’s decent life again. He made Zeke to fall for her again and confess for her sins. She even made herself baptized by Zeke to prove her willingness to belong to Zeke’s religion. But born as a cheater she married Zeke, took him out of his flock and made him do hard labor for her. Zeke was shocked when he discovered that his wife was seeing her lover Hot Shot whenever he is away. Zeke was furious and out to get them. The two escapes with a speeding car but eventually had an accident. When Zeke found Chick and hold her in her arms dying she asked for forgiveness. Chick died in his arms and now his fury turned to Hot Shot who ran away into the woods. He ran for him and caught up with him killing him with his bare hands.

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While in prison he came back to God again and led a life of holiness. After serving his sentence, he came back to his family with open arms and became a real person again.

This story was played by an all-black casts and no white appeared in this movie. Incidentally, one cannot assume that there was any racial or prejudice in this movie. No color contrast and injustice of the white because in that period being a cotton picker for the black was their main occupation. What this movie taught although it is considered a musical movie was the atrocities of the society to the poor and ignorant people. Black fooling black people for the sake of money. Being a cotton picker with no basic education and ignorant of the harshness of the society he was easily fooled by those who prey on his kind. Down and out even costing his brother’s life he turned to God. Then made a fool for himself again and eventually turned to spirituality again. Spirituality is the main spot of this story. Although this film was not in the list of the best 100 classical films, it was still considered as one of the best films portrayed by black people and did made an impact with the society’s awareness on alcoholism, addiction and vices (Gilliam, 2006).

Although the whole film was in black and white which was the only media in film making in that period, the effect is most dramatic which makes life and the society in the 1920s  moving and alive. This is the first film that has adopted post-synchronization technology. The dialogue has a twang of the early blacks a depiction of the real black society just like the pre-era of the old black society.

Hurricane (1999) Rubin Carter (Denzel Washington) was a young black boy who he grew up in a harsh and troubled neighborhood. Stabbing a pedophile when he was a kid he was brought to reformatory to change. But Rubin is such a principled young man. He does not want to be manhandled because he felt there is really an injustice in his society. Being black he sees everywhere the segregation of rights and discrimination. This made him tougher and more inclined to violence. Incidentally during his brawling days he discovered he had a knack in boxing. Bout by bout he became a professional middleweight boxer during the 1960s. But life really played a joke on him when he was wrongfully accused by a white cop for murder of three bar patrons. The cop having a hatred for blacks even harasses civilians to testify against him as witnesses. Sentenced to three life terms without the proper court, he still put his right foot when dealing with the guards. He does not wear prison uniforms and always break the prison laws. This made him in trouble with the white guards more.

Full of compassion with life and determination he now channeled his strength with writing his biography. The sensationalism his case has created has contributed to the publication of the book. “The Sixteenth Round” is about his glorious days in boxing and his childhood. It also includes his alleged innocence and accusations. It fights for his innocence and the right to live in a free society. Fortunately, Lesra a black boy who was adopted by two Canadians has found a copy of his book in a thrift shop. Affected by the compelling and emotional event that the writer has put in his work, the boy wrote a letter of sympathy to the writer. He replied and a friendship began. Forming a bond with the writer, he urged his guardians to help him in his crusade to prove the innocence of the man. Going to New Jersey, the couple and the boy helped the lawyers of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter to uncover evidence that he was innocent. And finally on his 20th years in prison, he was freed as an innocent man.

Although this story depicted racism which the cop and the society has played on the life of Carter, the Canadians has been able to help him to prove his innocence. The white cop is the epitome of evil but in contrast to the Canadians who have somewhat showed sympathy. They also showed compassion to Lesra and the color of his skin is not a hindrance to take care of him (Blackwelder, 1999) .

The musical score provided by Chris Young was aptly adapted to the jazzy trend of the movie. Its just like in the 60’s and 70’s when blacks are beginning to make lively music to the best of musical standard. The dialogue was overwhelming with strong compassion and you can feel the emotional grimace lining with each character’s face as each of them forcefully battled each other to gain dominance and strength.

On the Waterfront (1954). This film won an 8 academy awards. Starred by Marlon Brando and directed by Eliz Kazan. The film is about social issues like homelessness and poverty which rooted out from the problems on labor disputes and multiculturalism. It was also based on true story from written articles of the New York Sun series by Malcolm Johnson. Father Barry’s character which is Father John M. Corridan in real life is an Irish-American Roman Catholic and known in real life as the “waterfront priest”.

Terry Malloy (Brando) was once a popular boxer. He is now retired and works as a dock man at the Hoboken dock in New Jersey. This place is being run by a small time syndicate who lord it over with the Irish immigrant workers. The leader of the gang, Johnny Friendly is connected with illegalities and corruption. Being urged by Father Barry to lead the workers to go against the gang, Terry is worried of the possible consequences. But when Johnny asked him to kill his own brother because of treachery with the gang he felt there is really something to yell about. When his brother was murdered, he testified in court against Johnny’s involvement with illegal activities. They fought it over in the courtroom and into the docks. Outnumbered and outboxed by Johnny’s gang, the immigrant workers came to his rescue and made their way out of Johnny’s domain and testified against him as well.

This is the case of whites against immigrant and social injustice in the workplace.  It exposes corruption and anomaly ruled over also by a white American. The community of Irish-American led by Father Barry has the leading role in bringing down the gang. This movie was based in the 50’s where black workers are not included with the white workers. Other people see it as a malevolent rule of racism and prejudice against immigrants (Chown, 2000).

This medium was associated with social realism and shot in black and white because it can cover wider angle in latitude. Documentary photographers agree that using black and white in film making allows an acceptable image to magnify the social context of the plot. Thus Kazan and Chulberg agreed that this movie has to be told in black and white.

The dialogue used in this movie sounds foreign with heavy Irish accent to capture the use of idiom of the dock men. The tone of the language and the vernacular used is valuable in expressing the early Irish-American language which highly expresses their culture as well as their anger.

In analysis, these three films have been selected to depict the life of race against race and the position of the characters in a complex political system dominated by the whites. In Hallelujah, the struggle revolves in a certain society where their culture and their community is the same. It is black against black and the smarter against fools. Both hold position in a community where the few hardliners playing the manipulator against the poor and the ignorant. The focal direction of the story is based on political motivation that does not acknowledge the separation of colors but with the standard of living in a hierarchal society. This film was intended to have a viewership for blacks to imbue belief that being also in your own world has its own disadvantages. The disadvantaged here are the people who are in the low level of society. Spirituality played a big role as part of life of the low-profiled society. Some people viewed spirituality as a means to justify nobility through deprivation but this movie revolved on deception as well as adherence to religion.

The Hurricane is a film which others consider also a typecast of the ordinaries. It is now white against the blacks. Normally seen in the movies of the 80’s with themes from the 50s and 60s, the pre-modern society was always involved in a race of ethnicity against unfairness in the judicial system. Blacks are considered a blotch to the white’s society and everywhere they go they are viewed as stains and blatant warnings of an impending danger. This stigma has not left even to the standard American society in which case was always portrayed in the movies. Racism and police brutality in those ages has been considered stereotypical alright but every time a movie was made such as this, it always touches a sensitive nerve to the viewers. To conclude the analysis of this movie, it indicates that it is not freedom after all when the abolition of slavery was promulgated. It is still a practice of slavery and injustice based from the color of the skin.  Although this film depicts the harshness and brutalities of some whites there is however a giving of hope to the life of the accused black.

Canadians are believed to be more conservative and receptive to societal changes. Here they were portrayed as the freedom seekers who believe there is still justice in the American judicial system. Proving the innocence of a black man as well as the adoption of Lesra was an indication of the difference between the political systems of the Canadians and the Americans.

The film “On the Waterfront” shows the struggle of the immigrants in the 50s as against the domineering society of whites. Based on true gathered events, this movie cases the events as it was clearly told by an Irish-American priest who played the force behind the salvation of the immigrants from the hands of the ever notorious white.

In conclusion, it could be observed here that the political system played a great role to convey the struggle of non-Americans in the world of the whites. It is not just a case of white against the inferior race or a certain race against its own kind but the political system of corruption and injustice that exist in a multicultural society. The so-called inferiority of race in general has the stereotypical effect on the life of the colored and the immigrant as against the dominating white. It is always been the case. The question now evolved around these films that if people are foreigners or colored, do they really have a decent place in the world of the fair-skinned people?


BLACKWELDER, R. (1999) The Hurricane Review The Hurricane – Movie Review.

CHOWN, J. (2000) Visual Coding and Social Class in On the Waterfront.

GILLIAM, R. (2006) Hallelujah (1929).


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