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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
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 »
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 »
Your honor, this is a small country town. We've always thought that what happened here was our own private concern. This is no longer true. Just as it is no longer true that our country as a whole can exist entirely to itself. What is done in our courts in cases such as this has become a matter of moment in the eyes of the world. Let us examine our conscience. Let us look into our attitude and our tradition. Let us take care lest it be said of us that here there is neither law nor justice.
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Sincere drama of racial bigotry with outstanding performances...
Elia Kazan took over the helm of PINKY when John Ford requested replacement as having no real interest in the story. He not only took over, but he did a superb job.
Personally, it took awhile for me to get over the idea of casting JEANNE CRAIN as a light-skinned black, but she does some of her best work here. Same can be said of Ethel Waters and Ethel Barrymore, and not surprisingly, all three actresses were nominated for Oscars. Undoubtedly, all benefited by Kazan's firm direction.
The story is essentially written to show the racial bigotry that existed (and still does) in many parts of the South. Without going into plot development, let's say the ending is a bit predictable, but the film still remains powerful and sensitive in its treatment of the subject matter.
In 1949, this was a daring film for Fox to make, risking the possibility of hurting the reputation of its most popular box-office star at that time, Jeanne Crain. But credit goes to Darryl F. Zanuck for permitting his studio to make films like THE SNAKE PIT and GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT, risky and controversial. The box-office results and critical acclaim justified the risk.
Well worth seeing, absorbing and sensitive.
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