Cabin in the Sky is a 1943 American musical film based on the 1940 stage musical of the same name. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, the film stars Ethel Waters and Rex Ingram, who reprised their roles from the Broadway production, as well Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson and Lena Horne. It was Horne’s first and only leading role in an MGM musical. Louis Armstrong was also featured in the film as one of Lucifer Junior’s minions, and Duke Ellington and his Orchestra have a showcase musical number in the film.
Little Joe, a man killed over gambling debts, is restored to life by angelic powers and given six months to redeem his soul and become worthy of entering Heaven—otherwise he will be condemned to Hell. Secretly guided by “The General” (the Lord’s Angel), Little Joe gives up his shiftless ways and becomes a hardworking, generous, and loving husband to his wife Petunia, whom he had previously neglected. Unfortunately, demon Lucifer Jr. (the son of Satan himself), is determined to drag Little Joe to Hell. Lucifer arranges for Joe to become wealthy by winning a lottery, reintroduces Joe to beautiful gold-digger Georgia Brown, and manipulates marital discord between Joe and Petunia. Little Joe abandons his wife for Georgia, and the two embark on a life of hedonistic pleasure. As Little Joe and Georgia celebrate at a nightclub one evening, Petunia joins them, determined to win Joe back. Little Joe fights with Domino for Petunia and she prays for God to destroy the nightclub. A cyclone appears and leaves the nightclub in ruins, as Joe and Petunia lie dead in the ruins after being shot by Domino. Just as it appears that Joe’s soul is lost forever, the angelic General informs him that Georgia Brown was so affected by the tragedy that she has donated all the money that he had given her to the church. On this technicality, Little Joe is allowed to go to Heaven with Petunia. As the two climb the Celestial Stairs, Joe suddenly wakes in his own bed. Joe had not been killed in the initial gambling-debt fracas, only wounded. All his supposed dealings with angels and demons were only a fever dream. Now genuinely reformed, Little Joe begins a new, happy life with his loving Petunia.