8 user 2 critic

Take a Giant Step (1959)

Approved | | Drama | 1 December 1959 (USA)
A black high school senior struggles with becoming a man, and living in a middle class white neighborhood in the late 1950s U.S. In protest of the paternalistic views of the Civil War ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Key Witness (1960)
Drama | Mystery | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An average Los Angeles citizen witnesses a gang murder when he stops to use a telephone. Aware that he is the only witness against them, the gang members seek out his identity and terrorize... See full summary »

Director: Phil Karlson
Stars: Jeffrey Hunter, Pat Crowley, Dennis Hopper
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Job or family? This perennial conflict portrayed in this drama about a draftsman, able to free himself from the job for a very overdue family vacation, who is threatened with the sack if he doesn't return to work mid-holiday.

Director: Philip Leacock
Stars: Ernest Borgnine, David Brian, Bethel Leslie
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

An endocrinologist in a dysfunctional marriage with an aging, alcoholic wife journeys to Africa seeking a drug that will restore youth.

Director: Edward Dein
Stars: Coleen Gray, Grant Williams, Phillip Terry
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Four American soldiers stationed near a German village face death in the rape of a local girl and are defended by outside counsel Major Steve Garrett.

Director: Gottfried Reinhardt
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Barbara Rütting, Christine Kaufmann
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In this sequel to "Knock On Any Door", the residents of a Chicago tenement building band together to insure that the son of Nick Romano does not follow in his father's footsteps...to the electric chair.

Director: Philip Leacock
Stars: Burl Ives, Shelley Winters, James Darren
Paris Blues (1961)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

During the 1960s, two American ex-pat jazz musicians living in Paris meet and fall in-love with two American tourist girls.

Director: Martin Ritt
Stars: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Poitier
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Exploring the life of Peter, from being a successful fisherman to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ and being dependent on Jesus Christ.

Director: Frank Borzage
Stars: John Saxon, Howard Keel, Susan Kohner
The Interns (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

During their first year of internship at New North Hospital, a group of aspiring doctors undergo both personal and professional upheavals. John Paul Otis destroys his medical career when he... See full summary »

Director: David Swift
Stars: Michael Callan, Cliff Robertson, James MacArthur
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Rich socialite Chantal marries Eugene, a photographer, and everything seems blissful until her envious friend attempts to break them up. In desperation, she turns to her mother, but the advice she receives may do more harm than good.

Director: Henry Levin
Stars: Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin, Micheline Presle
Comedy | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

World War 2 comedy about a submarine commander who finds himself stuck with a decrepit (and pink) sub, a con-man executive officer and a group of army nurses.

Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Joan O'Brien


Cast overview:
Johnny Nash ...
Spencer 'Spence' Scott
Estelle Hemsley ...
Grandma 'Gram' Martin
Lem 'Daddy' Scott
Ellen Holly ...
Paulene Myers ...
Violet (as Pauline Meyer)
May Scott
Royce Wallace ...
Rose Thompson
Frances Foster ...
Delmar Erickson ...
Dee Pollock ...
Frank Killmond ...
Joe Sonessa ...
Sherman Raskin ...
Bill Walker ...
Frank, the Bartender (as William 'Bill' Walker)


A black high school senior struggles with becoming a man, and living in a middle class white neighborhood in the late 1950s U.S. In protest of the paternalistic views of the Civil War emphasized in his history class, he storms out and gets caught smoking a cigar in the boys' room. Spence's crush on a white classmate goes nowhere because of her father's attitude toward blacks. His outspoken grandmother seems the only one who understands his angry growing pains, at the early stages of the U.S.'s Civil Rights Era. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The explosions in the classrooms! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

L'orma del gigante  »

Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The theme song is mentioned in the opening credits but was never heard anywhere in the movie itself. See more »


Take a Giant Step
Written by Jay Livingston, Ray Evans
Sung by Johnny Nash
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Great insight into the Black American experience circa 1959
7 June 2009 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The biggest reason I decided to watch this film when it came on Turner Classic Movies recently was because I discovered that the film starred none other than Johnny Nash. He was the pop singer best known for the early 70s hit "I Can See Clearly Now" and I was shocked to see him in the lead role in a film. Well, despite me tuning in only out of curiosity, I was happily surprised to see the 19 year-old Nash did an excellent job playing an angry young Black man who is tired of the treatment of Blacks at that time. So good a job that I am surprised he didn't have a more extensive list of film credits.

The film begins with Nash stomping out of his high school class and then being caught only moments later smoking in the bathroom. As a result of his behaviors, he is then expelled. This is interesting, as apparently times have changed. Nowadays, you'd practically have to commit a string of felonies to get expelled from most American high schools! When he goes home, his grandmother confronts him about his expulsion. It seems that he is the token Black in the school and was angry at the patronizing way that the Civil War was being mis-taught to the kids in this middle-class White neighborhood Instead of telling the teacher off or disagreeing with her or gently correcting her (like he probably should have done), he stormed out on the class.

At about this same time, some White kids come to the house wanting him to pitch in an upcoming baseball game. However, although they want him to play because he's so talented, he's NOT invited to the party afterwords because he's Black! Understandably, he's hurt and angry...though he's also flailing about aimlessly by not directing or controlling his feelings. In fact, he's so aimless that he soon goes to a local bar to get drunk.

It's obvious that Nash's character is meant to be a microcosm of Black America--a group that was on the fringes of society but was beginning to demand more. However, since this movie debuted in 1959 (at the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement), it has somehow gotten lost. Newer films such as IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER? have gotten a lot more attention over the years, but earlier and well made films like this one as well as INTRUDER IN THE DUST have been generally forgotten.

As far as the film goes, what I liked best was the language. Unlike most portrayals of Black and White Americans of the era, the language here seemed raw and real. There was a bit of cursing and phrases such as "I'll snatch you bald-headed" that added to the realism. Yet, at the same time, it didn't seem gratuitous--more like how people really talked when they weren't on film.

Overall, it's a remarkable film with great insight into the heart of Black America. The only complaint, and it's a very minor one, is that occasionally the film is a tad overly dramatic. It also places, perhaps, too much emphasis on the main character's sex drive. While this IS worth investigating in films, here it tends to blur the overall message. But considering that the film was made with a small budget, relatively inexperienced actors and took big risks, it's a very powerful film, nevertheless.

By the way, special recognition should go to Estelle Hemsley as the Grandmother. Her role and acting were pivotal and very important to the success of this film, though apart from her the acting was still very good throughout.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
A wonderful gem! Blondfashionisto
Discuss Take a Giant Step (1959) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: