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Pinky (1949)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  November 1949 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,717 users  
Reviews: 38 user | 15 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 7.2/10

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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 love story of a girl who passed for white! 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

John Ford was the original director of the film, but after seeing dailies Darryl F. Zanuck felt Ford wasn't connecting with the material. Zanuck called Elia Kazan in New York and asked him to take over the film. Kazan felt he owed Zanuck for his film career, and agreed to do the movie without even looking at the script. He flew to Los Angeles and started filming the next Monday. 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

Featured in Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Viewing a film 40 years later
18 October 2001 | by (st. monica) – See all my reviews

I saw this film some years after it came out, in a Texas Baptist orphans home, as a preadolescent. In the years to follow, I developed a fascination for Ethel Waters, esp. when I saw her interpretation of Carson McCuller's "A Member of the Wedding".

When I saw the film tonight on American Movie Classics, a lot of years had passed since first having seen it. Ethel Waters' performance struck me as cowed and subservient. In the court scene while being questioned by the plaintiff's council, she actually flinched when he raised his voice. ...And I'm thinking, 'Damn, that woman is really intimidated.' Having read her autobio, as well as a bio on her, I'm aware that not one woman in a million suffered through a similar childhood: a b*****d born of a 13-year-old rape victim - unwanted and shuffled from pillar to post to eventually become a washerwoman...it's a wonder she survived.

Yet survive she did. Not surprisingly, she had a monster chip on her shoulder. It is my understanding that John Ford, the man who was to direct "Pinky", had such a run-in with Miss Waters that he quit, and Kazan took over. The word is that neither could stand the sight of the other.

The movie is an important one - and I'd like to think that the reason goes beyond the juxtapositioning of America's treatment of blacks in the Forties with today's suffocating PC standards. There is the understated acting, for one thing. Ethel Barrymore always played the dignified albiet intimidating elderly lady in her later years. Yet in "Pinky", she is strong without being absurdly powerful. How well that woman delivers her lines...!

What I also liked was, while the white majority were unkind to Pinky, I can attest as a Southerner (well, Texan), that Kazan presented them truthfully. He only demonized one woman: the older cousin-plaintiff.

It is surprising that this film wasn't presented in a more gritty format; that there wasn't more preaching in it, that it wasn't condescending to whites. None of these failings mar this splendid film. Forty years after having seen it, I realize a superb gentleness that isn't to be found in American films. At a guess, that's because a generation ago most films were made for 30-and-over adults, whereas today they're almost exclusively made for 13 - 25 year olds.

I will give "Pinky" my highest compliment: It is literary.


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Message Boards

Recent Posts
If Pinky was played by a black actress..... speilbrick-1
Nina Mae McKinney as Pinky hud9150
The boyfriend ran out much too quickly at the end... jwillis5
Miss Em's house blueeyedbear
Will air on TCM on 9/7/2012 michaelhelwick
Fox Movie Channel is going to air Pinky Hawkins0321
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