In 1940s Chicago, a young black man takes a job as a chauffeur to a white family, which takes a turn for the worse when he accidentally kills the teenage daughter of the couple and then tries to cover it up.
Bigger Thomas, an African American who lives in an impoverished neighborhood, is employed by a prosperous white family who live in the suburbs of a major city. The money Bigger makes at his new job will be used to supplement his mother's income. As a chauffeur, he is directed by the father of the family to take Mary, the daughter, to the university. Instead, Mary decides to pick up her Socialist boyfriend, Jan, and to spend the time drinking and partying. Jan and Mary portray a young liberal couple who venture into a black neighborhood with Bigger for the sole purpose of being entertained at Ernie's, a black nightclub. On the way home, Mary becomes inebriated and Bigger must get her to her bedroom without being detected. Mary's mother, who is blind, enters the room and Bigger panics at the thought of being caught with a white woman. He accidentally kills Mary by placing a pillow over her head to keep her quiet. Still frightened, Bigger disposes of the body in the furnace, possibly ... Written by
Broncine G. Carter
Bigger is a teenager who is so poor he and his mother must share a bedroom in an apartment that appears to be falling apart, and they don't have enough money to eat well. When they get out of bed, two other hidden children pop up from under the covers--Bigger's sister sleeps with her mother, and his brother sleeps with him, and the males must turn around while the females get dressed. To improve their situation, Bigger's mother knows of a great opportunity for him and hopes he will finally get a job he can hold on to. If he doesn't, things could be even worse (at least they HAVE a home now).
Bigger goes to be with his friends when he should be interviewing for the job. He lets them know he will NOT work for the white man. Yet he does finally show up at the home of a rich family, and immediately turns into what his friends would likely call an Uncle Tom--not Stepin Fetchit, but respectful and polite.
Everything appears to be going well for a while, but then something quite terrible changes the situation drastically.
Oprah Winfrey came across quite convincingly as a poor black mother. This was in the days before she became a superstar talk show host. I won't say it's too bad she was successful in her best-known career, because she did so much good, but she could have been quite a fine actress. Victor Love was good as Bigger, primarily because Bigger had to be so convincing in order to keep his job. A great performance came from John Karlen as a defense lawyer (yes, someone needed a lawyer).
This was an African Heritage Network Monthly Movie Classic. It wasn't as good as some movies selected for this honor, but it was pretty good.
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