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Sounder (1972)

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The oldest son of a loving and strong family of black sharecroppers comes of age in the Depression-era South after his father is imprisoned for stealing food.



(screenplay), (novel)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Boatwright
Sheriff Young
Eric Hooks ...
Earl Morgan
Yvonne Jarrell ...
Josie Mae Morgan
Sylvia Kuumba Williams ...
Harriet (as Sylvia 'Kuumba' Williams)
Teddy Airhart ...
Mr. Perkins (as Ted Airhart)
Richard Durham ...
Perkins' Foreman
Wendell Brumfield ...
Deputy #1
Al Bankston ...
Deputy #2
Myrl Sharkey ...
Teacher (as Merle Sharkey)
Inez Durham ...
Court Clerk


The Morgans, a loving and strong family of Black sharecroppers in Louisiana in 1933, face a serious family crisis when the husband and father, Nathan Lee Morgan, is convicted of a petty crime and sent to a prison camp. After some weeks or months, the wife and mother, Rebecca Morgan, sends the oldest son, who is about 11 years old, to visit his father at the camp. The journey becomes something of an odyssey for the boy. During the journey, he stays a little while with a dedicated Black schoolteacher. Written by Ed Cannon <ecannon@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Family


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 May 1973 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Csibész  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In 2003, ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney (1997) produced a new TV version of Sounder (2003). Kevin Hooks directed, and Paul Winfield played the teacher. (It was one of Winfield's last roles before his death in 2004.) See more »


When embracing at the reunion, Earl's hands change position. See more »


Camille: [quoting from W.E.B. Du Bois' "Of the Training of Black Men"] Herein the longing of black men must have respect: the rich and bitter depth of their experience, the unknown treasures of their inner life, the strange rendings of nature they have seen, may give the world new points of view and make their loving, living, and doing precious to all human hearts. And to themselves in these the days that try their souls the chance to soar in the dim blue air above the smoke is to their finer spirits ...
See more »


Needed Time
Written by Taj Mahal
Sung by Lightnin Hopkins
See more »

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User Reviews

Quiet...VERY quiet
17 February 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Tale of a sharecropping family in 1933 Louisiana and what happens when the father (Paul Winfield) is sent to jail for stealing food to feed his family. It also deals with the oldest son (Kevin Hooks) coming of age. Sounder, BTW, is the name of the family dog.

Quiet, slow but ultimately very moving tale of a poor black family in the 1930s. There's some beautiful shots here (it was shot on location in Louisiana) and very little dialogue and only occasional music. I must admit I was getting a little bored at first--I wanted the story to MOVE! But the film slowly grew on me and, after half an hour, I was hooked. The images tell the story along with some very moving Oscar-nominated performances by Winfield and Cicely Tyson (as his wife). Even young Hooks (who was only 14 when this was done) is quite good. The film slowly works on you and, by the end, I was crying my eyes out--But don't worry--it DOES have a very happy ending.

This was a HUGE hit in 1972. It was one of the few G-rated films dealing with a black family. Unlike most other 1970s black films it had no drugs, violence, sex or swearing--this was a true rarity back then. And white, black, young and old audiences loved it. It works on all levels. It was also nominated for Best Picture. It didn't win anything but the fact that it was nominated was enough. The cast went through hell making it. I remember, in an interview, Winfield said it was brutally hot during the whole shot, the cast was eaten alive by mosquitoes and he caught a TERRIBLE case of hay fever from all the pollen. It's to this whole casts credit that they all give out good performances. Sadly...this film has been forgotten. That's too bad...it should be rediscovered.

There was a sequel 3 years later (with a different cast). It was "Sounder Part 2" but it seems nobody has ever seen it. But don't miss this one. A perfect family film.

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