The Blood of Jesus (film #506 on Feature Films). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This religious all-black cast film from the 40s tells the story of Martha Ann Jackson, a young married woman with a no-good husband. Soon after she gets saved and baptized, she is fatally injured in an accident with her husband’s hunting rifle. Her soul is taken away by an angel, but at the last minute, God decides it’s not her time yet and lets her go back to the land of the living. There the devil sends his envoy, Judas Green, to lure her to the big city with fancy clothes. There, she goes nightclubbing and a friend of Judas’ offers her a “job,” but once she finds out what the “job” involves, she runs off to return to the straight and narrow path. Unfortunately, she is mistaken for another female “employee” who’s a pickpocket, resulting in many of the nightclub’s patrons taking off after her. At the point between Zion and Hell, she is confronted by the devil, but fortunately, having been saved, she has Jesus on her side, who not only repels the devil, but the angry nightclub patrons as well. Like most all-black cast films I’ve seen, this film is a confusing mix of authenticity and stereotypes. Ultimately, though, the sincerity of it won me over, enough to even make up for some of the aspects that bothered me, such as holding up the rural life as an ideal despite the fact that for most African-Americans at the time it was a life of grinding poverty. It’s obvious that a lot of care went into this, and that the occasional amateurish moments are more artifacts of an extremely low budget than of incompetence or lack of vision. And the music is great, both the gospel music of Zion and the jazz and blues of Hell.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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