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Imitation of Life (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama | 30 April 1959 (USA)
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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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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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Robert Alda ...
...
David Edwards
...
Karin Dicker ...
Terry Burnham ...
...
Young Man
Lee Goodman ...
Photographer
...
Showgirl
...
Frankie
...
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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 April 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Imitación de la 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

Lana Turner took a much smaller salary, than her usual $25,000 per week and worked for 50% of the film's profits, which earned her over $2 million (setting a record for an actress at the time). See more »

Goofs

When Lora is posing for the flea powder ad in 1947, several New York City Transit Authority R16 subway cars built in 1954 can be seen passing outside. See more »

Quotes

Showgirl: So, honeychile, you had a mammy!
Sarah Jane: Yes. All my life.
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

Referenced in Six Feet Under: Can I Come Up Now? (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Real Tear Jerker
26 December 2003 | by (North Carolina) – See all my reviews

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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The most BEAUTIFUL dresses and gowns I've ever seen in any movie... aircrftmec
Why did Sarah Jane feel that she had to try to pass? joannabaroncelli
After her racist boyfriend beat her up....why didnt they obryan864
This Is A Very Real Problem jynger71
This is horrible.... rajiv_kuin
Crying Over This Film musicman81
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