Clean Pastures (1937) - ::CENSORED ELEVEN:: 3 of 11
Clean Pastures is a Merrie Melodies animated cartoon directed by I. Freleng, produced by Leon Schlesinger, and released to theatres on May 22, 1937 by Warner Bros. and Vitaphone. The cartoon is a parody of Warner Bros.' 1936 film, The Green Pastures. It tells of an ersatz Heaven called "Pair-O-Dice" and its angels' efforts to win souls from "Hades Inc." A Stepin Fetchit caricature fails to recruit any souls in Harlem, New York City. However, jazz-singing angels incorporate "rhythm" into the pitch, and Harlem's African Americans follow them as they dance their way to Heaven.
Schlesinger and Warner Bros. had problems with Clean Pastures from the start. Hollywood censors alleged that the film ran afoul of the Hays Production Code because it burlesqued religion. Later commentators surmise that the censors also objected to the portrayal of a Heaven run by African Americans. In 1968, the short's stereotypical portrayal of black characters prompted United Artists to withhold it from distribution as one of the infamous Censored Eleven.