Temptation [1946]

The Fighting Temptations may not cure the common cold with its FFF (Familiar Feel-Good Formula), but it'll definitely cure what ails you. Here's an unassuming, well-cast comedy drama, filled with forgiving spirit and jubilant gospel music, and its lessons go down as smooth as a mint julep in summertime. Mostly it's just good, harmless fun, beginning when a deceptive corporate ladder-climber (Cuba Gooding Jr.) returns from Manhattan to his southern-fried Georgia hometown to attend the funeral of a beloved aunt, whose will stipulates a reward of $150,000 if he'll direct the local church choir to win a big annual gospel music contest. The outcome is obvious, but veteran comedy director Jonathan Lynn keeps things percolating with casual flair, especially when a lovely lounge singer (Beyoncé Knowles, in a nicely downplayed costarring role) agrees to rejuvenate Gooding's choir, which teams rapping convicts, a boozy barfly (on organ), and bible-thumping prudes. With musical appearances by the O'Jays and the Blind Boys of Alabama, among others, how could this be anything but delightful? --Jeff Shannon

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