30 user 18 critic

Sounder (1972)

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The oldest son of a loving and strong family of black sharecroppers comes of age in the Depression-era South after his father is imprisoned for stealing food.


Martin Ritt


Lonne Elder III (screenplay), William H. Armstrong (novel)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Cicely Tyson ... Rebecca Morgan
Paul Winfield ... Nathan Lee Morgan
Kevin Hooks ... David Lee Morgan
Carmen Mathews ... Rita Boatwright
Taj Mahal ... Ike
James Best ... Sheriff Charlie Young
Eric Hooks Eric Hooks ... Earl Morgan
Yvonne Jarrell Yvonne Jarrell ... Josie Mae Morgan
Sylvia Kuumba Williams Sylvia Kuumba Williams ... Harriet (as Sylvia 'Kuumba' Williams)
Teddy Airhart Teddy Airhart ... Mr. Perkins (as Ted Airhart)
Richard Durham Richard Durham ... Perkins' Foreman
Wendell Brumfield Wendell Brumfield ... Deputy #1
Al Bankston Al Bankston ... Deputy #2
Myrl Sharkey Myrl Sharkey ... Teacher (as Merle Sharkey)
Inez Durham Inez Durham ... Court Clerk


The Morgans, a loving and strong family of Black sharecroppers in Louisiana in 1933, face a serious family crisis when the husband and father, Nathan Lee Morgan, is convicted of a petty crime and sent to a prison camp. After some weeks or months, the wife and mother, Rebecca Morgan, sends the oldest son, who is about 11 years old, to visit his father at the camp. The journey becomes something of an odyssey for the boy. During the journey, he stays a little while with a dedicated Black schoolteacher. Written by Ed Cannon <ecannon@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Family


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

26 April 1973 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Csibész See more »

Filming Locations:

Clinton, Louisiana, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to not be nominated for Best Director. See more »


The brim of Rebecca's straw hat goes from up to down and back between alternating shots when the family returns from the baseball game. See more »


Camille: [reading to David Lee from W.E.B. Du Bois' "Of the Training of Black Men"] "The longing of black men must have respect."
[pauses to explain to David Lee]
Camille: Which means a man and a woman are human and must be treated that way.
[continues reading]
Camille: "The rich and bitter depth of their experience, the unknown treasures of their inner life, the strange rendings of nature they have seen, may give the world new points of view and make their loving, living, and doing precious to all human hearts. And to ...
See more »


Referenced in Brando Unauthorized (2011) See more »


Needed Time (Theme from Sounder)
Written by Taj Mahal
Performed by Lightnin Hopkins
Courtesy of Kent Records and special thanks to John Williams
See more »

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User Reviews

Nothing political about it
17 January 2009 | by cagordon22See all my reviews

This is a great movie. It's what you call a slice of life, and the life that's investigated is that of a desperately poor, horribly downtrodden African-American family in Depression-era Louisiana. Love it for what it is.

When I was watching this in the movie theatre for the first time in 1972, I was seated with my other high school friends behind 3 rows of a Southern Baptist Sunday School class, that was amply chaperoned by about 2 adults for every 5 children. Near the beginning of the film, as the family and Ike are passing a clapboard church that has a white congregation, David asks his father why black and white people go to different churches when God is the same God to everyone.

Ike pipes up and says once, when he was in another town, he accidentally stumbled into a white church on a Sunday morning, and was lucky to get out alive. So he asked God, "why did fellow Christians practically try to kill me just for coming to worship You with them?" And God replied to Ike, "Son, at least you got INSIDE a white church - I've been trying to do that for 2000 years!!" And with that, the entire 3 rows of Southern Baptist Sunday School, children and adults, stood up and walked out of the theatre! The truth hurts. This is a truthful beautiful movie. So glad I stumbled upon it today - just as Nathan Lee was coming home. Sigh.

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