Imitation Of Life (1959)

DOUGLAS SIRK

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1959.  Universal International Pictures.  Screenplay by , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1959.  Golden Globe Awards 1959.  

The subliminal messages in this Douglas Sirk soaper are just as timely as they were in All That Heaven Allows, even though the overall effect isn’t quite as impressive. Its story tells of a single mother (Lana Turner) raising her daughter ( in the grownup scenes) while also hoping to make it as a Broadway star. Her black maid (Juanita Moore) is also raising her own daughter (Susan Kohner), a girl whose skin is so pale as to actually pass for white. The friendship struck up between these two mothers sees them through many difficult times, most especially the troubles Kohner brings upon herself by trying to deny who she really is. Colourful and melodramatic as all of Sirk’s films, as always a hard-hitting social commentary disguised as harmless housewife soap opera, this film is also bolstered by an extremely tender sense of melancholy that works you over by its conclusion.

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