This film is generally credited with the first appearance of the "moon walk" dance step. It is performed by Bill Bailey, brother of Pearl Bailey.
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During filming, the movie's black stars were told by the studio manager that they were not allowed to eat at the MGM commissary. When studio head Louis B. Mayer heard about this, he invited the black performers to join him instead in his private dining room. All the performers were allowed to eat in the commissary the following day.
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MGM recycled some of its tornado footage from The Wizard of Oz (1939) for a key scene.
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Apart from the "Shine" sequence, this was Vincente Minnelli's first sole directing assignment. He had been directing on Broadway, which gave this film a feel that had nothing of the typical "Hollywood Studio System" in it.
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A scene showing Lena Horne singing "Ain't It the Truth" (written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg) while taking a bath, was cut, but later appeared in the one-reel short subject Studio Visit (1946).
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"Ain't it the Truth?", a very elaborate musical number performed by Louis Armstrong, was cut from the film (this track is now available on a variety of Armstrong CDs). It explains why a prominent person like Armstrong had so little to do in the film as seen now.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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"Cabin in the Sky", the original musical comedy, had been written by Lynn Root (libretto) and composed by Vernon Duke (music) and John La Touche (lyrics). The producer was Albert Lewis in association with Vinton Freedley. It opened at the Martin Beck Theater on October 25, 1940 and ran for 156 performances.
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The film was to be released in black and white. But Vincent Minelli had a thought that it may look better in sepia. They tested a section of the film in sepia and all agreed. So they processed it in the final sepia as we now enjoy it.
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This film's initial USA telecast took place in Seattle Monday 4 March 1957 on KING (Channel 5), followed by Portland OR 1 April 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), by Memphis 9 June 1957 on WHBQ (Channel 13), by Honolulu 18 June 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), by Minneapolis 13 July 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9), by Los Angeles 6 September 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), by Akron 1 October 1957 on WAKR (Channel 49), by Hartford CT 14 October 1957 on WHCT (Channel 18), by Peoria 30 October 1957 on WTVH (Channel 19), by Chicago 6 December 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), and, finally, by Philadelphia 20 September 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6) and by San Francisco 7 July 1959 on KGO (Channel 7). The date of its initial telecast in New York City has not yet been determined.
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