Movie Diary 6/14/2021

Ouanga (George Terwilliger, 1936). Voodoo and zombies, on a West Indian island; the plot is driven by interracial passion, as Black woman Fredi Washington (she played the light-skinned daughter trying to pass as white in Imitation of Life) vows to snag the white plantation owner she’s previously had a thing with – he’s now planning to marry a “respectable” white woman. Fascinating as a curio, creakily written and played except for Washington, with an occasional spectacular shot. Some of it was made on location in the Caribbean, and there are voodoo scenes that have a kind of nighttime ethnographic credibility about them – but maybe they’re nonsense. The climax involves an astonishingly gigantic tree, with a white woman hanging from it. The Black local who wants Washington for his own is played by … Sheldon Leonard. (Screened online in a UCLA event.)