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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Go Tell It on the Mountain (review)

Based on James Baldwin’s powerful novel, this 1985 movie from PBS’s American Playhouse is a heart-wrenching tale of tragedy, hypocrisy, and a hard-heartedness born of hard times. Following the journeys — physical, spiritual, and emotional — of three generations of one African-American family, from the post-Civil War rural South to Harlem in the 1930s, this is a potent film, redolent of love and loss, made all the more forceful by strong performances from a stunning cast: Paul Winfield and Ruby Dee, as well as Alfre Woodard and Ving Rhames in early film appearances. The picture quality is not the highest, but viewers will be so captivated by the film that they’ll barely notice. Featured among the extras is a study guide.


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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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