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
Universal encountered some resistance to the promotion of the film and tailored its advertising campaign for the South. A studio representative was quoted as saying, "White southerners avoid films that are advertised as dealing with the race problem." On February 2, 1959, Hollywood Reporter reprinted the following wire sent by LA Tribune editor Almena Lomac to numerous white publications: "Imitation of Life...is a libel on the Negro race. It libels our children and the Negro mother [and] should be banned in the interest of national unity, harmony, peace, decency and inter-racial respect. The Tribune is refusing all advertising of it and will picket it in the Los Angeles area and call upon the N.A.A.C.P. to condemn, oppose and picket it, too." The outcome of this boycott is not known. See more »
During Broadway montage sequence set in 1951, theater sign advertising Ricardo Montalban in the musical Jamaica can be seen. It didn't open until 1957. See more »
You're aiming high.
Why not? It doesn't cost anymore. Don't you believe in chasing rainbows?
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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 »
The preposterous nature of a few of the reviewers here (who desperately need to get a clue) prompted me to leave one myself. This film has to be understood from a historic perspective (made during a time when segregation was still going on), in order to be full appreciated. If you can do that (classic film fans auto-learn to do this while watching old films), its a more than worthwhile film. Yes it is a bit soapy and melodramatic, though. What is a MISTAKE however is all these people here trying to appropriate their own modern-day politics onto their assessment of the film (which are Irrelevant), and other ridiculous shallow outlooks (one person saw the daughters actions as legit, and demonized BOTH mothers??!) that just don't see the whole picture. Another claimed Sandra Dee 's acting was superb and the mother's couldn't act (safe to say that reviewer was no actor lol)... Method acting was not the final word on acting in Hollywood... And while Lana was great and I love her, (I know she could get a bit hammy at times, especially on her downhill), she was good in this i think...however, ANYONE that tries to take away from Juanita Moore's awesome performance in this movie (compared to Sandra Dee??! C'mon..) Is just clueless. Not to mention the broken ground here... The fact that she was finally getting to show her stuff as a great dramatic actress, instead of having to just play someone's maid. The girl who played Juanita's daughter however was also a very standout performance as well, for a newcomer. Though I also could totally have seen Natalie Wood in this role.
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