Walter Lee Younger is a young man struggling with his station in life. Sharing a tiny apartment with his wife, son, sister and mother, he seems like an imprisoned man. Until, that is, the family gets an unexpected financial windfall...Written by
Greg Bruno <email@example.com>
There was a tense and antagonistic relationship between Sidney Poitier and Claudia McNeil during the making of this film. The tension between the actor and actress had first developed when they played these parts in the play on Broadway. McNeil felt that film should adopt her character's point-of-view, a stance supported by the Playwright Lorraine Hansberry, while Poitier believed his character's struggles should be the focal point of the film. The actor and actress' distaste for one another never quite diminished, and Poitier wrote many years later that he believed that McNeil hated him. See more »
When Benetha is talking to mama and getting ready to go out with George, the bracelet on her left arm keeps disappearing and reappearing. See more »
Every once in a while it brings out a gem of verboseness ringing beautifully true, making this a master writer at 29 just there alive on screen at an age it all begins to work. Heart plus soul when set to words will trump today's path of least resistance 'politics is cinema.' What gets me is its cynicism portends godliness as conclusion, as in the grandma knows right, when there was a symptom of the beginning of the 'cultural' end already--and the end we see playing out today is racial, economic, and the man playing out in a post-identity world making the stakes even higher staring down the machine age. For 1961 this is misunderstood as our results today are so inevitable we would see it as an echo from long ago crystallizing: the late stage capitalism makes this film not only relevant but so grand the film is a genuinely haunting simulation of, not where it all went wrong, as I'm more agnostic, but what 'it' even is. That is sociological vs technological leaves the underclass out of humanity's ascension. The film's writer died at 34, interesting as Poitier keeps remarking he's 35. It is something about the prime of life materializing and de-materializing so painfully at once--is there any greater mark of societal failure than its more useful and able being without use? Everything Poitier says about joining or dying to the Grandma's wisdom--well she's gone now. So to my millennial eyes, his decision to sell the house back to the white folk seemed like a triumphant victory. Remember culture came to the same conclusion, setting aside religion that we 'can' fight for material. Then rejecting the solution was the film's chess-match with itself to reject its own victory for the greater moral one. This is also a rebellion against the form in clashing against the western audience's expectation--as the DVD pamphlet read, the film flopped in England--so even victory would be westernizing the sacredness of outsiders who decide on their own terms the nature of their assimilation, as is their sacred right to protect their culture and heritage however they, not we see fit. So you understand exactly what they mean when they say liberalism has become a new religion, as the institution of religion has outgrown its usefulness to empower useful action, rather would only placate, turns over to practice. Then Poitier in his hunger was in the exact mold of the modern man, there side by side on the evolutionary forefront, the film keeps bringing home this drive in itself is a quiet victory and the Grandma knows this. All along she knows he's already won. Everything he said is true, but he misses the pain of having a little hope is a great thing to the Grandma, whose victory was setting them to fail on the same prism as everyone else. "It was once freedom now it's money." "It was always money." Interesting its distinction of africanism and black america where assimilation is a nasty word to rebel against--the african immigrant taking precedent through immigration of the exceptional causes resentment; the black american taking theirs creates another prophetic identity war and tension in the degree, playing by 'their' rules rather than subverting and conquering them from within, as is his hunger vs the immigrant's, as is, two-fold: the sister's return to primitivism, shows a solution of subversion as an escape from this sick machine combating inhumanity with humanity. Second the immigrant has outdone and earned the sister off the boat, with what they could not do across generations, his suggestion is to take her -back- to Africa! Is a funny little irony with how poorly the host culture cares for its own. Every bit of their lives is boiling but then why is the film so euphoric? But why it fails today is we're past religion entirely. We want and crave and feel we've earned material victory. These are all proto-millennials without yet the screed of identity politics awakening them to the world in which they live so thrashing against the symptoms that politics would awaken in the coming decades to fuel. It's why Poitier is entrenched in economics and does not break down until his very own contemporary betrays him crabs in a buckets style. "No one can win, it's all rigged." The western world is a glorious scapegoat, but again, misunderstood in its purpose to align with the tortured evolutionary burden in actualization. My favorite is the way the camera interacts with Poitier's presence, passion, and physicality. Every corner of the film invites new directions and thoughts. This is also avant to begin the 60s vs 50s conformity reacted by young prodigious voices; and what is jazzy, psychedelic, and hallucinatory somehow without offering any of those qualities. The entire thing trips you out not unlike the way The Servant did in that transformative black and white and sheer intensity of the piece. It welcomes you to a decade where subversion began leading all the way today. It, in a way, invited and provoked the modern world.
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