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Pinky (1949)

 -  Drama  -  November 1949 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,572 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 16 critic

A light-skinned African American woman falls in love with a white doctor, though he is unaware of her true race.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: Pinky (1949)

Pinky (1949) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
William Lundigan ...
Basil Ruysdael ...
Kenny Washington ...
...
Griff Barnett ...
Frederick O'Neal ...
Evelyn Varden ...
Raymond Greenleaf ...
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Storyline

Pinky, a light skinned black woman, returns to her grandmother's house in the South after graduating from a Northern nursing school. Pinky tells her grandmother that she has been "passing" for white while at school in the North. In addition, Pinky has fallen in love with a young white doctor, Dr. Thomas Adams, who knows nothing about her black heritage. Pinky says that she will return to the North, but Granny Johnson convinces her to stay and treat an ailing white woman, Miss Em. Meanwhile, Dr. Canady, a black physician from another part of the state, visits Pinky and asks her to train some African American students, but she declines. Pinky nurses Miss Em but is resentful because she seems to feel that she is doing the same thing her grandmother did. Pinky and Miss Em slowly develop a mutual respect for one another. Mrs. Em leaves Pinky her property when she dies, but relatives of the deceased woman contest the new will in court. To raise money for the court fees, Pinky washes clothes... Written by Broncine G. Carter

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The poignant story of a girl who fell hopelessly in love! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

November 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lo que la carne hereda  »

Box Office

Gross:

$4,200,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lena Horne initially campaigned to play the title role in this movie (she was light enough to photograph "white"), but in the end, the movie studio felt white American audiences would feel more comfortable with a white actress, especially since love scenes with a white actor were involved. See more »

Goofs

When actress Nina May Mckinney's character gets slapped on the left side of her face by the white officer, Nina mistakenly rubs the right side of her face. See more »

Quotes

Melba Wooley: Cousin Em, what do you mean, gettin' sick like this?
Miss Em: When you're eighty years old, you expect to be sick. Sit down.
Melba Wooley: Now, now. Naughty, naughty. Eighty years *young* is what we say.
Miss Em: I don't. It's old, and I won't have it minimized. Takes a lot of livin' to get there, and pure, cursed endurance. Eighty years young indeed!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Black Shadows on the Silver Screen (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Racism in Your Face
26 November 2008 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

Well-mannered nurse Jeanne Crain (as Patricia "Pinky" Johnson) returns to her poor "Black" neighborhood, in Mississippi. There, she is welcomed by washerwoman grandmother Ethel Waters (as Granny). The pair are confronted by racism both outside and inside their home. Most importantly, it is revealed that Ms. Crain has been "passing" as "White". Moreover, Crain has become engaged to Caucasian doctor William Lundigan (as Thomas Adams). While working at home, to support Crain's nursing education, Ms. Waters has grown close to ailing Ethel Barrymore (as Miss Em). At first, Crain does not understand or accept the friendship between Waters, a former slave, and Ms. Barrymore, a former plantation owner. But, for her grandmother, Crain agrees to become Barrymore's nurse.

"Pinky" is a nerve-rattling classic.

Probably, the most obvious "debate" point was the casting of Crain in the title role. Crain was definitely "pink" enough (or, white-looking); but, her general "movie star" persona makes the casting decision seem risky. Yet, Crain, under Elia Kazan's direction, triumphs. There are so many ways Crain could have fallen into acting traps - she could have used mannerisms, make-up, and/or other stereotypical devices to "camp" up the "Black" - but, she avoids each trap. Crain performs the role with a great amount of dignity. She was deservedly honored with an "Academy Award" nomination.

Barrymore and Waters also perform well (as you might expect).

We are never, in the film, given a clear statement of facts regarding the heritage of Crain's "Pinky". My guess is that she is related, by blood, to both Waters and Barrymore. An attempted rape of Crain's character accounts, arguably, for her pink appearance; this might have occurred in more than one generation. It's also possible that a loving "mixed race" relationship was part of either Ethel's past. Making the "Black/White" history more clear would have only gotten the film into more trouble.

"Pinky" was quickly censored, and headed for the US Supreme Court.

One of the Board of Censors' objections was, "a white man retaining his love for a woman after learning that she is a Negro." However, Mr. Lundigan's "Thomas" is only willing to retain his love under certain conditions; and, this leads to a sharp, less "Hollywood"-styled ending. The Supreme Court was correct. Some of the film's best scenes show the way Crain is treated after other characters learn she is not white.

********* Pinky (9/29/49) Elia Kazan ~ Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters, William Lundigan


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Recent Posts
Who Could Play Pinky Today? screenscreams
Nina Mae McKinney as Pinky hud9150
The boyfriend ran out much too quickly at the end... jwillis5
If Pinky was played by a black actress..... speilbrick-1
Miss Em's house blueeyedbear
Will air on TCM on 9/7/2012 michaelhelwick
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