IMDb > Pinky (1949)
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Pinky (1949) More at IMDbPro »

Videos (see all 2)
Pinky -- Early tale of racial discrimination finds a light-Skinned black woman returning south after refusing a proposal of marriage from a handsome white doctor.
Pinky -- Trailer for this drama about a light skinned black woman who passes as a white woman


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7.2/10   1,764 votes »
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Down 9% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Cid Ricketts Sumner (novel)
Philip Dunne (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for Pinky on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
November 1949 (USA) See more »
The love story of a girl who passed for white! See more »
A light-skinned African American woman falls in love with a white doctor, though he is unaware of her true race. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination See more »
(27 articles)
User Reviews:
Top-notch all the way See more (38 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Jeanne Crain ... Patricia 'Pinky' Johnson

Ethel Barrymore ... Miss Em

Ethel Waters ... Pinky's Granny
William Lundigan ... Dr. Thomas Adams
Basil Ruysdael ... Judge Walker
Kenny Washington ... Dr. Canady

Nina Mae McKinney ... Rozelia
Griff Barnett ... Dr. Joe McGill
Frederick O'Neal ... Jake Walters
Evelyn Varden ... Melba Wooley
Raymond Greenleaf ... Judge Shoreham
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Shelby Bacon ... Boy (uncredited)
Betty Beard ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Rene Beard ... Teejore (uncredited)
Patsy Boniface ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Mildred Boyd ... Nurse (uncredited)
Preston Braxton ... Boy (uncredited)
Margaret Brayton ... Nurse (uncredited)

Paul Brinegar ... Western Union Clerk (uncredited)
Noble 'Kid' Chissell ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Eve Conrad ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Bert Conway ... Loafer (uncredited)
Josette Deegan ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Dick Dickinson ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Bobby Dugan ... Nurse (uncredited)
Everett Glass ... Mr. Jeffers Wooley (uncredited)
William Hansen ... Mr. Goolby (uncredited)
Jimmie Horan ... Townsman (uncredited)
Arthur Hunnicutt ... Police Chief (uncredited)
Jean Inness ... Viola, Saleslady (uncredited)
Wilfred Jackson ... Boy (uncredited)
Frank Jaquet ... Bailiff (uncredited)
Michael Jeffers ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Beverly Ruth Jordan ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Geraldine Jordan ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Pat Kane ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Philip Kieffer ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Read Killgore ... Loafer (uncredited)
Warren Mace ... Intern (uncredited)
Tiger Joe Marsh ... George, Wooleys' Chauffeur (uncredited)

Juanita Moore ... Nurse (uncredited)
Robert Osterloh ... Police Officer (uncredited)
Tonya Overstreet ... Nurse (uncredited)
Ruth Rickaby ... Matron (uncredited)
Dan Riss ... Mr. Stanley, Wooleys' Attorney (uncredited)
Katherine Sparks ... Minor Role (uncredited)
George Spaulding ... Medical Director (uncredited)
Harry Tenbrook ... Townsman (uncredited)
Jim Toney ... Baggage Man (uncredited)
Bess Wade ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Pat Walshe ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Blue Washington ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Jasper Weldon ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Directed by
Elia Kazan 
John Ford (uncredited)
Writing credits
Cid Ricketts Sumner (novel)

Philip Dunne (screenplay) and
Dudley Nichols (screenplay)

Elia Kazan  contributor to screenplay (uncredited)
Jane White  contributor to screenplay (uncredited)

Produced by
Darryl F. Zanuck .... producer
Original Music by
Alfred Newman 
Cinematography by
Joseph MacDonald (director of photography) (as Joe MacDonald)
Film Editing by
Harmon Jones 
Art Direction by
J. Russell Spencer 
Lyle R. Wheeler  (as Lyle Wheeler)
Set Decoration by
Thomas Little 
Walter M. Scott 
Makeup Department
Ben Nye .... makeup artist
Addie Baker .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Frank Prehoda .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Lillian Ugrin .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Production Management
Joseph C. Behm .... production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Wingate Smith .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Eugene Grossman .... sound
Roger Heman Sr. .... sound (as Roger Heman)
Visual Effects by
Fred Sersen .... special photographic effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Frank Corey .... grip (uncredited)
Les Everson .... gaffer (uncredited)
Til Gabani .... camera operator (uncredited)
Anthony Ugrin .... still photographer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Charles Le Maire .... wardrobe director (as Charles LeMaire)
Sam Benson .... wardrobe supervisor (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Lyman Hallowell .... apprentice editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Edward B. Powell .... orchestrator (as Edward Powell)
Alfred Newman .... conductor (uncredited)
Other crew
Darryl F. Zanuck .... presenter
Rose Steinberg .... script supervisor (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
102 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Argentina:Atp | Finland:S | Sweden:Btl | USA:Approved (certificate #13731)

Did You Know?

According to her biographer Donald Bogle, Dorothy Dandridge tested for the lead role.See more »
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): 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 »
Patricia 'Pinky' Johnson:Miss Em told me to always be myself, not to pretend. You told me that after I marry you, there won't be a Pinky Johnson anymore. How can I be myself if there's no Pinky Johnson anymore?See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Black Shadows on the Silver Screen (1975) (TV)See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
21 out of 23 people found the following review useful.
Top-notch all the way, 8 April 2006
Author: blanche-2 from United States

Black people "passing for white" was not a new topic for Hollywood in 1949. It was part of the plot of "Imitation of Life" in 1934, but in that film, an actual black actress, Fredi Washington, played the role of the young woman who "passes" in the white world. In 1949, there were two films dealing with this issue: "Pinky" and "Lost Boundaries," and in both cases, the black person was played by a white actor.

"Pinky" stars Jeanne Crain as Pinky Johnson, a black woman who looks white, so much so that she when she studies nursing in New York, she easily enters the white world and becomes involved with a white doctor who wants to marry her. Needing time to think over her situation, she returns home, which is a shack where her grandmother (Ethel Waters) lives in a black section of their southern town. There she is reminded of the prejudice and cruelty she left. When her grandmother asks her to care for an elderly white woman (Ethel Barrymore), hostility between patient and nurse leads to an uneasy bond.

This is a brilliant film all the way, magnificently directed by Elia Kazan and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, who loved taking on these controversial social issues. The acting is superb: Jeanne Crain gives the best performance of her career as a woman who comes to grips with her true identity. She is so dignified as she walks through the town, soft-spoken yet strong, refusing to come down to the level of those around her. Ethel Barrymore is the elderly terminally ill woman Pinky reluctantly agrees to care for, and she nearly steals the movie with a no-nonsense performance. She's a woman set in her ways and opinions, but she's fair person who can see the human soul. It's probably the best drawn character in the film.

As a teen-aged fan of "Route 66," I can well remember the publicity around the show when Ethel Waters guest-starred. Of course white teens in the '60s had no idea of who she was or the circumstances of her life and career. Yet to this day I can remember her on that show. Forty years later, thankfully, I have an appreciation of her place in history and her work. Waters gives a powerful performance. Her character has accepted her lot in life but sacrifices everything so that her grandchild can have a better one. In her world, white men have the power, and you can clearly see her belief manifested in her courtroom demeanor.

The casting of Jeanne Crain is a sticking point here but not really when looked at in the context of the 1940s. Even with this casting, this is a bold movie, uncompromising in its depiction of white attitudes and racial slurs. It is just a pity that at the time of the filming, Fredi Washington was 45 years old and actually no longer in films. Washington looked so white that she was told by producers that if she would agree to "pass" and play white roles, she could have a career equal to that of Norma Shearer. She refused, and in order to play black women, she had to darken her skin. Lena Horne was deemed not white-looking enough. I suggest that the same is true for the beautiful Dorothy Dandridge. There may have been black actresses who looked white enough to play this role, but would anyone have answered such a casting call? Most importantly, "Pinky" would not have been made without Jeanne Crain, because Zanuck wanted her to do it, and it's a film that deserved making. The other sticking point in the film is Pinky's fiancée, a white doctor. His easy acceptance of her as black - and the fact that she kept it from him - is a weakness in the script. This was done perhaps to highlight that he wanted to her to continue to pass for white, therefore making it clear that Pinky has to the make the decision, but the scenario does not seem believable.

You can predict the ending of "Pinky," and despite complaints that it's a typically neat Hollywood one, I found it immensely satisfying as I found the entire experience of watching this truly classic film, "Pinky."

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Pinky (1949)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Am I the only person who found this to be way too niave? IngmarTheBergman
The boyfriend ran out much too quickly at the end... jwillis5
Jeanne Crain comment on Pinky? silentdisco22
Miss Em's house blueeyedbear
If Pinky was played by a black actress..... speilbrick-1
Will air on TCM on 9/7/2012 michaelhelwick
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