7.6/10
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Imitation of Life (1934)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 26 November 1934 (USA)
Bea Pullman and her daughter Jessie have had a hard time making ends meet since Bea's husband died. Help comes in the form of Delilah Johnson, who agrees to work as Bea's housekeeper in ... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Baby Jessie Pullman (as Baby Jane)
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Martin the Furniture Man
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The Painter
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Jarvis the Butler
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Storyline

Bea Pullman and her daughter Jessie have had a hard time making ends meet since Bea's husband died. Help comes in the form of Delilah Johnson, who agrees to work as Bea's housekeeper in exchange for a room for herself and her daughter Peola. Bea comes up with a plan to market Delilah's pancake recipe. The two soon become wealthy and as the years go on, their friendship deepens. Their relationships with their daughters, however, become strained. Ashamed of her mother, Peola seeks a new life by passing for white. Bea's love for her daughter is tested when she and Jessie fall for the same man. Written by <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Claudette Colbert at her finest in Imitation of Life (re-release) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 November 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Imitación de la vida  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paramount loaned Claudette Colbert out to Universal for the film. See more »

Goofs

Steven Archer tells Bea Pullman what it's like on his boat: "in 10 days you could be drifting in a tropic sea," where they'd "guide past mysterious little islands, black and silent...and on the shore breeze, that'd come to you, the perfume of warm lands--hyacinth, and jasmine..." Hyacinths originally come from Turkey, not commonly thought of as the "tropics," were part of Greek mythology,and now come commonly from the Netherlands, or possibly the UK....neither considered the "tropics" either. To be located in the tropics, you must be in that area between 23 1/2 degrees N and S of the equator. None of the countries associated with hyacinths fall in those areas. Hyacinths don't fill the air with their scent either, especially enough to perfume the air offshore. See more »

Quotes

Jessie Pullman, Age 18: After all, what's the good of algebra and all that stuff to a girl?
See more »

Crazy Credits

End credits titled at the top "A great cast is worth repeating". See more »

Connections

Version of Imitation of Life (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen
(uncredited)
Traditional Negro Spiritual
Lyrics by Henry Thacker Burleigh
Played and sung by an offscreen chorus during the opening credits
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

Yes, it is a classic
18 February 2003 | by (Paris, Texas) – See all my reviews

I hope this film will be restored and put on DVD soon. It is a classic and a worthy addition to the film buff's library. Imitation of Life is not a perfect film, but considering that it was made in 1934, it deserves recognition. The film tells of two women, one white one black. Each has a daughter. Single moms and interracial friendships in 1934? Yes, it is true that the black woman, Delilah is subservient, but this is true to the times and she should not be criticized for it. Both these woman want a better life for their daughters and work together to do so. It is a sad, but realistic fact that neither daughter is happy with the better life. Delilah's daughter is very light-skinned and wants to pass for white for she knows in this era that the only opportunities are for whites. The later version starring Lana Turner is a poor substitute for this one. Lana tends to over act and the friendship between the two women is severely downplayed. It is true that in this film the camera seems to pause on the actors' faces over long, but this I think is a holdover from the silent film era when acting had to be done by facial expression instead of voice.

While this film is flawed it is a good film for young people in that it shows the changes made in our society both for single moms and for blacks.


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