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Pinky (1949)

Approved | | Drama | November 1949 (USA)
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A light-skinned African American woman falls in love with a white doctor, though he is unaware of her true race.

Directors:

Elia Kazan, John Ford (uncredited)

Writers:

Cid Ricketts Sumner (novel), Philip Dunne (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jeanne Crain ... Patricia 'Pinky' Johnson
Ethel Barrymore ... Miss Em
Ethel Waters ... Dicey Johnson
William Lundigan ... Dr. Thomas Adams
Basil Ruysdael ... Judge Walker
Kenny Washington Kenny Washington ... Dr. Canady
Nina Mae McKinney ... Rozelia
Griff Barnett ... Dr. Joseph 'Doc Joe' McGill
Frederick O'Neal Frederick O'Neal ... Jake Walters
Evelyn Varden ... Melba Wooley
Raymond Greenleaf ... Judge Shoreham
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Storyline

Pinky, a light skinned black woman, returns to her grandmother's house in the South after graduating from a Northern nursing school. Pinky tells her grandmother that she has been "passing" for white while at school in the North. In addition, Pinky has fallen in love with a young white doctor, Dr. Thomas Adams, who knows nothing about her black heritage. Pinky says that she will return to the North, but Granny Johnson convinces her to stay and treat an ailing white woman, Miss Em. Meanwhile, Dr. Canady, a black physician from another part of the state, visits Pinky and asks her to train some African American students, but she declines. Pinky nurses Miss Em but is resentful because she seems to feel that she is doing the same thing her grandmother did. Pinky and Miss Em slowly develop a mutual respect for one another. Mrs. Em leaves Pinky her property when she dies, but relatives of the deceased woman contest the new will in court. To raise money for the court fees, Pinky washes clothes... Written by Broncine G. Carter

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The poignant story of a girl who fell hopelessly in love! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

November 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lo que la carne hereda See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$4,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Ford was the original director of the film, but after seeing dailies Darryl F. Zanuck felt Ford wasn't connecting with the material. Zanuck called Elia Kazan in New York and asked him to take over the film. Kazan felt he owed Zanuck for his film career, and agreed to do the movie without even looking at the script. He flew to Los Angeles and started filming the next Monday. See more »

Goofs

When actress Nina May Mckinney's character gets slapped on the left side of her face by the white officer, Nina mistakenly rubs the right side of her face. See more »

Quotes

Judge Walker: I have here a note from Dr. Joe in which he says he's going to be delayed. Now, on the basis of this note, I petition for a brief recess.
Mr. Stanley: May I see this note, please? Do I have your permission, Judge Walker, to read this to the court?
Judge Walker: You certainly have.
Mr. Stanley: "Sorry, Mary Picken's baby jumped the gun. When it gets here, I'll get there. - Joe McGill"
See more »

Connections

Featured in Classified X (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
2 Ethels + 1 Kazan = Classic
1 August 1999 | by David-240See all my reviews

It is not very "in" to like Elia Kazan right now, because he named names in the McCarthy witch-hunts and just received an honorary Oscar, but what a brilliant director he was. And if he didn't show much courage in the Fifties, he sure did in the Forties when he tackled racial prejudice head-on in two excellent movies: "Gentleman's Agreement" and "Pinky" (John Ford is said to have chickened-out of directing this one). "Pinky" is not as good as "Gentleman's Agreement", but it ain't half bad either. Here we see a deeply prejudiced South where black girls are attacked on the streets and shops refuse them service. The scenes are realistic, even brutally filmed, and the language strong for its day.

I'm sure Kazan must have been dismayed to have been given a Hollywood starlet to play the complex lead character - a black woman who looks white - but he managed to extract a damn good performance out of Jeanne Crain. The supporting cast is flawless, down to the smallest role. Kazan knew how to direct actors. Evelyn Varden deserves special mention as a vicious Southern matron. But the most praise must be reserved for the two Ethels - Waters and Barrymore - who are nothing short of brilliant.

Okay, the ending's a little dicky, and predictable, but the intentions of the film-makers are sincere and the results must have been revolutionary in 1949. I love the way Kazan shoots his movies too - long unbroken sequences and tracking shots, and excellent use of light and shadow - both of which probably coming from his stage experience. Kazan combined a strong ability to work with actors and a keen cinematic eye to create some of the best dramatic films of the century. And "Pinky" is one of these.


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