This story is a true account of the lives of Scott and Marsha Carter. Having graduated from medical school, Scott Carter, a fair-skinned African American, marries Marsha Mitchell and moves ...
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William A. Wellman
This story is a true account of the lives of Scott and Marsha Carter. Having graduated from medical school, Scott Carter, a fair-skinned African American, marries Marsha Mitchell and moves to Georgia. When he arrives at the black clinic in Georgia, he discovers that the job must inconveniently go to a Southerner. Discussions between two nurses at this clinic suggest that Scott's light skin may have some bearing on the decision not to hire him. Defeated but not conquered, Scott returns to Massachusetts to live with his in-laws until he can get employment. He tries unsuccessfully to obtain employment as an African American. Because Marsha is pregnant, Scott decides to take a job at Portsmouth Hospital, but he reluctantly does so as a white man. While there, he manages to save the life of Dr. Bracket, who encourages him to take a postion in Keenham, New Hampshire. Scott decides to continue "passing" for white. In Keenham, Dr. Scott Carter proves to be quite a success for the town. For ... Written by
Broncine G. Carter
No need to detail the plot as others have done. On the whole, this is a very sincere and thoughtful production. Easy to say that by today's standards the film lacks honesty, especially by casting whites in the lead roles. However, I expect the production went as far as any commercial production of its time could in dealing with the emerging issue of race prejudice. Remember, much of the commercial audience was in the Jim Crow South, and I expect many theaters there refused its showing, (probably in the North too, only more subtly).
Besides, the effort to de-glamorize everyone and everything in the film, along with its location photography and varying sound quality, suggests that social conscience is what the film-makers were aiming for and not big box office. This was an independent production, far from the Hollywood glamor factory, even though the executive producer Louis de Rochemont had been a top producer at 20th Century Fox. I particularly like the way they used ordinary looking people in so many of the principal and supporting parts, especially the charming but plain-faced Susan Douglas and the equally charming but goofy-looking Carleton Carpenter. The ending too, is handled with a fair amount of honesty. especially the highly symbolic very last frame.
Too bad that this was precisely the kind of gritty little conscience film that disappeared from the screen following the Mc Carthy purges that loomed on the horizon. Even though the movie is now mainly of historical interest, it indicates the sort of challenging entertainment that was lost to the public during the Cold War decade of the 1950's. More than anything, it now needs to be shown more often, so that younger generations can get a definite sense of time, place, and attitudes, even if the actors are white.
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