7.6/10
2,916
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 »

Videos

Photos

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
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
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 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
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
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
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Adam Lemp, the Dean of the Briarwood Music Foundation, has passed on his love of music to his four early adult daughters - Thea, Emma, Kay and Ann - who live with him and his sister, the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Claude Rains, John Garfield, Jeffrey Lynn
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 | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A woman cannot decide between two men who love her, and the trio agree to try living together in a platonic friendly relationship.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins
These Three (1936)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Two school teachers and the man they both love face ruin when a malicious student cooks up a lie.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In post-war Cape Breton, a doctor's efforts to tutor a deaf/mute woman are undermined when she is raped, and the resulting pregnancy causes scandal to swirl.

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Affluent Millicent and Oliver Jordan throw a dinner for a handful of wealthy and/or well-born acquaintances, each of whom has much to reveal.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Louise Beavers ...
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:

Brought Back to thrill you again! Fannie Hurst's stirring drama of a mother and a daughter in love with the same man. (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

Eight uncredited writers contributed to the screenplay, including Preston Sturges and Finley Peter Dunne. See more »

Goofs

When Elmer first comes into the pancake shop on the boardwalk, Beatrice leans on the counter with one elbow. In the next wider shot, she's leaning on the counter with both elbows. 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

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Claudette Colbert (1962) 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

Landmark Film
8 December 2004 | by (Alexandria, Virginia) – See all my reviews

This is probably one of the first films that dealt with race relations in this country. While "Imitation of Life" centers around the business created by two women, one black and one white, it also take a hard look at the struggles minorities face -- something very rarely seen on the big screen at that time. Most of the films at that time showed blacks as domestic servants and pictured them as "happy" in those roles. This is a classic in that it's one of the first times any medium tackled the issue of black-white relations. It's a must-see, both from an entertainment perspective and, most importantly, a historical one. I think a lot of African-Americans in the entertainment business can look at this film as a trail-blazer in terms of "serious" roles for blacks instead of being cast as "entertainers."


21 of 25 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:
?