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Imitation of Life (1959)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  30 April 1959 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 9,041 users  
Reviews: 132 user | 41 critic

A struggling young actress with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.

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Title: Imitation of Life (1959)

Imitation of Life (1959) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
Robert Alda ...
...
David Edwards
...
Karin Dicker ...
Terry Burnham ...
John Vivyan ...
Young Man
Lee Goodman ...
Photographer
...
Showgirl
...
Frankie
Sandra Gould ...
Annette
David Tomack ...
Mr. McKenney
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Storyline

Aspiring actress Lora Meredith meets Annie Johnson a homeless black woman at Coney Island and soon they share a tiny apartment. Each woman has an intolerable daughter, though Annie's little girl Sarah Jane, is by far the worse. Neurotic and obnoxious, Sarah Jane doesn't like being black; since she's light-skinned (her father was practically white), she spends the rest of the film passing as white, much to her mother's heartache and shame. Lora, meanwhile, virtually ignores her own daughter in a single-minded quest for stardom. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

actress | love | friend | widow | model | See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 April 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Imitação da Vida  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The exterior shot of Lora Meredith's lavish ranch style house would later be used for the the exterior shots of the Hart's home in the TV show Hart to Hart (1979). See more »

Goofs

When Steve and Susie go riding together their horses jump a low stone wall which one of the horses knocks revealing the whole thing to be a lightweight single-piece prop. See more »

Quotes

Steve: Your bones...
Lora Meredith: What about my bones?
Steve: They're perfect. My camera could easily have a love affair with you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Juanita Moore, who plays Annie, is billed with the credit "And Presenting Juanita Moore as Annie Johnson", even though she had already appeared in many films. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Universal Story (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Trouble of the World
Words and music by Unknown
Performed by Mahalia Jackson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Douglas Sirk's Last Melodrama
21 April 2012 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In Coney Island, the widow aspiring actress Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) finds her six-year-old daughter Susie playing with eight-year-old Sarah Jane, who is the daughter of the black homeless housekeeping Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore). Lora brings Annie and her daughter to live in her small apartment in New York and they become close friends.

Lora has a love affair with the photographer Steve Archer (John Gavin) and sooner he proposes her. But the ambitious Lora dreams on becoming a star in Broadway and prioritizes her career and also neglects Susie (Sandra Dee). The light-skinned Sarah Jones (Susan Kohner) rejects her mother and tries to pass as white for her friends.

Lora is well-succeeded in her career and reaches stardom. Ten years later, she meets Steve by chance and he gives attention to Susie while Lora is shooting a film in Italy. When she returns, she decides to get married with Steve; but Susie has fallen in love with Steve. Meanwhile Sarah Jane run away home to work in fleshpots.

"Imitation of Life" is Douglas Sirk's last melodrama with an engaging and emotional story with romance, ambition, friendship, love and rejection. The drama of Annie that is rejected by her daughter, in a time when color of people was a watershed, is heartbreaking and the best subplot. I do not recall any other film from this period that brings the division in the American society between black and white people so clearly. Susan Kohner has an impressive performance in the role of an outcast girl that does not accept the way the society treats black people but prefers to deny her color. The sequence in the alley where she is beaten up by her boyfriend reflects the mentality of the American society in those years. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Imitação da Vida" ("Imitation of Life")


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