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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 3 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 ...
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David Edwards
...
Karin Dicker ...
Terry Burnham ...
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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

Pearl Bailey was originally considered for the role of Annie Johnson. 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 Sopranos: Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request (2006) 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

 
"If we should ever pass on the street, please don't recognize me."

Lora Meredith, an attractive widow with theatrical aspirations, has lost her 6-year-old daughter, Susie, in the crowded beaches of Coney Island... She finally finds her in the care of Annie Johnson, a black woman, and her very light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane, who had been playing with Susie… Before long Annie goes to work as a maid for Lora and the two women become fast friends…

Encouraged by an agent (Robert Alda), Lora gets a good role in a play by David Edwards… In the years that follow, she becomes a successful Broadway actress and appears in one Edwards enormous hit… But fame means work and work means neglecting Susie, now sixteen, who must bear the loneliness of a teenager whose mother is too busy being a star…

A handsome photographer, Steve Archer (John Gavin), is the resolute, admiring love of Lora's life but he too must wait and suffer for her affection… Meanwhile, Annie has big problems with her daughter… Sarah Jane rejects her race, and refuses to accept she is black… She disclaims her mother to camouflage her ancestry and eventually takes a decision with extremely drastic effect…

"Imitation of Life" was an ideal tearjerker/soap opera for the major talents of Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner... Moore shined as the self-sacrificing mother so loving, honest and sincere… Cleverly enough, Kohner projected unafraid sensuality…Both stars won Academy Award nominations as Best Supporting Actress…


21 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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