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(1929 b 100')

En: 6 Ed: 6

A young African-American loses money gambling and becomes a preacher but runs off with the woman who tempts him.

An African-American family harvests their cotton crop. A couple with several children asks Parson Johnson (Harry Gray) to marry them. Zeke Johnson (Daniel L. Haynes) makes Missy Rose (Victory Spivey) kiss him. The family cotton is taken to the cotton gin and packed into bales. Zeke sings "At the End of the Road."

Chick (Nina Mae McKinney) dances and sings "Swanee Shuffle." Zeke dances with Chick and tells her that he has $100. She persuades him to play dice with Hot Shot (William Fountaine). Zeke loses it all and asks to see the dice. Hot Shot pulls a gun, but Zeke gets the gun and shoots. People run out, but his brother Spunk Johnson (Everett McGarrity) is shot. Zeke carries him out. Hot Shot gives half the money he got to Chick.

People lament and sing at the funeral. Parson Johnson raises the spirit of his son Zeke, who trusts in the Lord. Zeke sings "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

Zeke becomes a preacher and arrives on a train as people sing "Get on Board." Zeke sees Hot Shot and Chick and shakes them. People sing "Give Me that Old Time Religion." Chick taunts Zeke. He preaches repentance and warns about hell. Chick joins those wanting to be saved.

In a river Zeke baptizes people dressed in white one at a time. After Chick is baptized, he carries her to a tent. Mammy Johnson (Fanny Belle DeKnight) makes Zeke go back to the river.

Zeke tells Missy Rose that the Devil has him. He asks her to marry, and she agrees. Chick has religion, and Hot Shot tries to stop her. She whips him and goes to hear Zeke preach. During the chanting and celebrating she goes to Zeke. Missy Rose looks for Zeke and says he is gone.

Months later Zeke is working in a sawmill. Hot Shot has found Chick and goes out before Zeke comes in. Zeke asks about a buggy. Chick sits in his lap and kisses him. He falls asleep at the table. Chick packs her bag and runs off with Hot Shot. Zeke shoots at them and runs after the buggy. Chick falls out into the mud. She asks Zeke to help her get away from the devil. Zeke holds her, but she dies. Zeke follows Hot Shot in the swamp and strangles him.

Zeke works in a chain gang and gets probation. On a train he sings "Coming Home." On a trail near home he embraces Mammy, and Missy Rose kisses him.

This authentic melodrama was filmed in Tennessee by King Vidor and portrays how religion affects rural African-American culture.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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