Imitation of Life (1959)

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Imitation of Life (1959)


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Melodrama master Douglas Sirk’s final Hollywood film – and perhaps his crowning achievement – is a gorgeously constructed, emotionally gripping tale of race, ambition and maternal sacrifice starring Lana Turner and Juanita Moore. Imitation of Life, the second screen version of Fannie Hurst’s iconic novel, tells the dual story of Lora Meredith (Turner), a white single mother and aspiring actress, and Annie Johnson (Moore) a Black single mother who works as Lora’s live-in maid. As Lora’s career ascends, she neglects her troubled teen daughter Susie (Sandra Dee), while Annie is pushed aside by her light-skinned daughter Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner), who chooses to pass as white. As both mothers struggle to connect with their daughters, director Douglas Sirk brilliantly manipulates the story’s artifice, emphasizing the obliviousness of the white characters to their privilege and imbuing the Annie-Sarah Jane relationship with a wrenching pathos. It all crescendos with a soul-shaking musical performance from gospel great Mahalia Jackson and a gale-force emotional tsunami that brings the film to its three-hankie conclusion. Nominated for two Academy Awards, Imitation of Life is one of the ultimate Hollywood movies about mothers. (Dir. by Douglas Sirk, 1959, USA, 124 mins., Not Rated)

2 HR 4 MIN | NR

Released 1959
Imitation of Life (1959) Trailer Trailer
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