This all-black musical was the first feature film directed by Vincente Minnelli, the man who'd go on to direct some of MGM's best and most famous musicals. His An American in Paris starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1951. Minnelli won the Best Director Oscar for Gigi, also starring Leslie Caron, and it was the Oscar winner for Best Picture of 1958. Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland, and The Band Wagon, starring Fred Astaire, were other future Minnelli hits. He came from Broadway. As did Ethel Waters. As did A Cabin in the Sky. When Ethel Waters premiered in that new musical, she'd been a Broadway star since the 1930s.
In the 1943 Minnelli film version for MGM's famed producer of A-list musicals, Arthur Freed, the Dooley Wilson part of "Joe" went to Eddie Anderson. At the time, Anderson was hugely popular as "Rochester," a regular on Jack Benny's hit comedy radio show.
It's a power struggle between good and bad for Joe's soul in this story. Will Joe be good and make his Bible-lovin' wife happy? Or will gambling and Georgia Brown lead him astray? Here's a photo with Lena Horne and director Vincente Minnelli. He's to the left of her. That looks like actor Melvyn Douglas on her right.
Waters had another Broadway success and, again, was lucky enough to repeat the role in the movie adaptation. Ethel Waters, Julie Harris and Brandon De Wilde reprised their stage roles in 1952's Member of the Wedding. Fred Zinnemann directed the film.