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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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
I have seen this movie a countless number of times and know the dialogue by heart. Each time I watch it, I say, "I'm not going to cry this time". Sometimes I almost make it, but then Mahalia Jackson starts to sing and I lose it. My children don't understand why Sarah Jane wanted to pass for white. I tried to explain to them that in that day and age, it was sometimes necessary. The beautiful Susan Kohner steals the film. It's a shame that she only made a handful of movies. To me the most heart-wrenching scene is where Annie visits Sarah Jane in her hotel room. She says' "I want to hold you my arms one more time. Just like you were my baby." I puddle up just writing about it.
In Lana Turner's biography, she writes about the making of this movie. It was made shortly after her daughter stabbed Lana's gangster boyfriend to death. She said that when you see her crying in the funeral scene, those tears were real. When Mahalia started to sing "Troubles of the World", all of her troubles started to come back to her and she got up and ran out of the church. They had to run after her and bring her back to complete the scene.
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