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Imitation of Life (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama | 30 April 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:

30 April 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

This film, which focuses on the relationship struggles of mothers and daughters, was Lana Turner's first since a very public scandal involving Turner and her daughter Cheryl Crane. The previous year, the fourteen year old Crane had fatally stabbed Turner's boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato. Stompanato, part of Mickey Cohen's infamous gang, had been beating Turner, and the court ruled that Crane's actions were justifiable homicide. Nonetheless, the killing and subsequent scandal created a rift between Turner and her daughter, and seriously threatened to end Turner's film career. However, Turner channeled the pain from her experience into this film. It proved financially and critically successful, and served as a comeback vehicle for the actress. See more »

Goofs

The type of desk telephone in Robert Alda's 1947 office was not developed until the mid-1950s. See more »

Quotes

Annie: How do you tell a child that she was born to be hurt?
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

Version of Imitation of Life (1934) 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

 
Beauty! Romance! Betrayal!
12 February 1999 | by Doug PhillipsSee all my reviews

This Five Hanky Weeper is a classic Lana Turner vehicle. She never looked better.

This is a remake of a 1934 Claudette Colbert movie of the same name from a popular Fannie Hurst novel.

The 1934 version is more true to the original story but it is difficult to find and is seldom shown on television.

The story has been rewritten to take full advantage of Ms. Turner's luminescent beauty. Now, instead of a restaurant owner she is a glamorous star of stage and film.

But the underlying pathos is the same -- two women, each with a daughter that does not appreciate the sacrifices their mothers have made.

Before I saw this film I had no idea who Susan Kohner was. She turns out quite a performance and I wonder why she didn't do more films.

Sandra Dee as Ms. Turner's daughter is Sandra Dee playing a daughter -- you've seen it before.

In the final scences when Susan Kohner's character does her "That's my momma..." piece you can hear sobs coming from the people in the audience...

Do not be surprised if some of them are yours.


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