7.6/10
2,970
59 user 26 critic

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)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A struggling young actress with a six year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.

Director: Douglas Sirk
Stars: Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee
Cleopatra (1934)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The man-hungry Queen of Egypt leads Julius Caesar and Mark Antony astray, amid scenes of DeMillean splendor.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Henry Wilcoxon
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An amorous lieutenant is forced to marry a socially awkward princess, though he tries to keep his violin-playing girlfriend on the side.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Elizabeth Barrett's tyrannical father has forbidden any of his family to marry. Nevertheless, Elizabeth falls in love with the poet Robert Browning.

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton
Alice Adams (1935)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The misadventures of two social-climbing women in small town America.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Fred MacMurray, Fred Stone
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A gangster tries to make Apple Annie, the Times Square apple seller, a lady for a day.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Warren William, May Robson, Guy Kibbee
State Fair (1933)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An Iowa family finds adventure, love, and heartbreak, when they spend a week at the state fair.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Janet Gaynor, Will Rogers, Lew Ayres
Libeled Lady (1936)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A newspaper man, his jilted fiancée, and his lawyer hatch an elaborate scheme to turn a false news story into the truth, before a high-society woman can sue for libel.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy
Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In the Gay Nineties, a seductive nightclub singer contends with several suitors, including a jealous escaped convict and a handsome temperance league member.

Director: Lowell Sherman
Stars: Mae West, Cary Grant, Owen Moore
42nd Street (1933)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A producer puts on what may be his last Broadway show and, at the last moment, a chorus girl has to replace the star.

Director: Lloyd Bacon
Stars: Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent
Stage Door (1937)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A boardinghouse full of aspiring actresses and their ambitions, dreams and disappointments.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou
Red Dust (1932)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The owner of a rubber plantation becomes involved with the new wife of one of his employees.

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Gene Raymond
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
Fredi Washington ...
...
Baby Jessie Pullman (as Baby Jane)
...
Martin the Furniture Man
...
The Painter
...
Jarvis the Butler
Edit

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 »
Edit

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Although cast as the daughter of Louise Beavers (Delilah), Fredi Washington (Peola, age 19) was in reality less than two years younger than her onscreen mother. She was, however, considerably slimmer than the matronly Beavers, which enabled the pair to "pass" as mother and daughter. See more »

Goofs

When baby Jessie falls into the bathtub going after her rubber ducky, there is an obvious edit between her falling in and the splash of water coming out of the tub. Note the shifting of the towel and the shadows from the light coming in through the window on the tile wall behind the tub. See more »

Quotes

Baby Jessie Pullman, Age 3: I want my quack-quack!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Reissue prints of this film, issued after Carl Laemmle's ouster and retirement from Universal, read "The New Universal Presents [Claudette Colbert and Warren William in 'Imitation of Life']" rather than "Carl Laemmle Presents [Claudette Colbert and Warren William in 'Imitation of Life']" See more »

Connections

Featured in The Universal Story (1995) 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Wonderful Movie.
29 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

I find the movie aptly named. My motivation for responding is due to an earlier opinion on this movie, specifically: "the central character of Delilah is the worst kind of racial stereotype; a relentlessly cheerful mammy, perfectly satisfied to spend her life tending to the needs of her white employer". I am an American Black (African-American) and I do not find Delilah offensive. In fact I applaud the reflection of honesty that this 1934 film attempts. The "mammy" of that time period had very few choices. That she was happy to help her very nice white employer for the safety provided does not make for a hate figure by Blacks. It makes for a reminder of the intense level of crap Black folks went through and how they dealt with the pain of it to stay honest, kind and helpful people. Should Delilah lived in the streets and hated white people the rest of her life? Should she have not had the fortitude and insight to find a situation with another caring human being, albeit this other human was white? And for this she is lauded as a the worst kind of racial stereotype? No. The answer is a resounding NO. Now if Delilah was beaten and raped on a regular basis and still wanted to please her white employer while denying her race the previous poster would have had a point.

Okay, I really didn't like the mournful gospel music, R&B would have made this movie perfect to me but that's just me. Live and Love. There is no shame in being a good person.


41 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Does Peola have a white father? xomimiox
anybody else find this movie very offensive? chris-e-lee
Is the 1934 version better? vanjac12
20% of profits for a black woman in 1939.... unlikely_protagonist
I'm confused about Jesse's comment... lyndadavis_07
AM I THE ONLY ONE....? dadbowen-1
Discuss Imitation of Life (1934) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?