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Imitation of Life (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama | 18 March 1959 (USA)
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An aspiring actress befriends a black widow, but trouble arises when the latter is rejected by her daughter, who tries to pass for white.

Director:

Douglas Sirk

Writers:

Eleanore Griffin (screenplay), Allan Scott (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:
Lana Turner ... Lora Meredith
John Gavin ... Steve Archer
Sandra Dee ... Susie - 16
Susan Kohner ... Sarah Jane - 18
Robert Alda ... Allen Loomis
Dan O'Herlihy ... David Edwards
Juanita Moore ... Annie Johnson
Karin Dicker Karin Dicker ... Sarah Jane - 8
Terry Burnham Terry Burnham ... Susie - 6
John Vivyan ... Young Man
Lee Goodman Lee Goodman ... Photographer
Ann Robinson ... Showgirl
Troy Donahue ... Frankie
Sandra Gould ... Annette
David Tomack 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

Taglines:

"I'll get the things I want out of life, one way or another...from one man to another!" See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 March 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Imitación de la vida See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$13,990,819

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$25,000,000, 1 January 1970
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Douglas Sirk's last Hollywood film before he retired back to his native Germany. See more »

Goofs

In the top right corner as David Edwards arrives in Lora's living room after she becomes famous. See more »

Quotes

Lora Meredith: [to Sarah Jane] You weren't being colored, you were just being childish.
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

Referenced in The Curse of Lizzie Borden 2: Prom Night (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Trouble of the World
(uncredited)
Words and music by Unknown
Performed by Mahalia Jackson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Ahead of its time
17 April 2006 | by james-osborn3See all my reviews

This movie, released in 1959, features topics that would not be discussed in good company for years: blacks and whites sharing an apartment, single mothers raising children on their own, and prejudice against blacks.

I was only 7 when this movie came out, and I remember when the Civil Rights movement started and what trouble it caused. This movie showed the suffering that racism was causing, in a way that helps non-blacks empathize with the tragedy.

The screenwriters cleverly wove all kinds of sub-themes into the plot, including the challenges women had to overcome to land a decent job. The story also addresses the question of what should happen when a working woman gets married: does she quit working and let her husband be the bread-winner, or should the husband support the wife in her work? These were unusual questions in the early years after World War 2, before which almost no women held professional positions.

Given the year this movie came out, it dealt fairly with all of these social challenges.


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