Band of Angels (1957)

Genres - Adventure, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Melodrama  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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A toned-down version of Robert Penn Warren's accusatory novel of plantation slavery, miscegenation, and black empowerment, Band of Angels nonetheless generated significant controversy upon its release. In the hands of studio veteran Raoul Walsh, the story is more a costume melodrama than a socio-political treatise. Fortunately, it's a well-mounted historical melodrama, with Lucien Ballard's cinematography aptly showcasing Franz Bachelin's set design and Marjorie Best's lavish costuming. Taboos of the time did not allow for mixed-race kissing, so white actress Yvonne de Carlo was cast as the slave lover opposite Clark Gable's plantation master. There was no compromise, though, in the casting of Sidney Poitier as the rebellious slave who turns the tables on Gable. Poitier is outstanding; his performance is the strongest link to the book's explosive social commentary.