In 1940s Chicago, a young black man takes a job as a chauffeur to a white family, which takes a turn for the worse when he accidentally kills the teenage daughter of the couple and then tries to cover it up.

Director:

Jerrold Freedman

Writers:

Richard Wesley, Richard Wright (novel)
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Victor Love ... Bigger Thomas
Matt Dillon ... Jan
Elizabeth McGovern ... Mary Dalton
Geraldine Page ... Peggy
Oprah Winfrey ... Mrs. Thomas
Akosua Busia ... Bessie
Carroll Baker ... Mrs. Dalton
John McMartin ... Mr. Dalton
Art Evans ... Doc
John Karlen ... Max
Willard E. Pugh ... Gus
David Rasche ... Buckley
Ving Rhames ... Jack
Walter Rivers Walter Rivers ... G.H.
Shavar Ross ... Buddy
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Storyline

Bigger Thomas, an African American who lives in an impoverished neighborhood, is employed by a prosperous white family who live in the suburbs of a major city. The money Bigger makes at his new job will be used to supplement his mother's income. As a chauffeur, he is directed by the father of the family to take Mary, the daughter, to the university. Instead, Mary decides to pick up her Socialist boyfriend, Jan, and to spend the time drinking and partying. Jan and Mary portray a young liberal couple who venture into a black neighborhood with Bigger for the sole purpose of being entertained at Ernie's, a black nightclub. On the way home, Mary becomes inebriated and Bigger must get her to her bedroom without being detected. Mary's mother, who is blind, enters the room and Bigger panics at the thought of being caught with a white woman. He accidentally kills Mary by placing a pillow over her head to keep her quiet. Still frightened, Bigger disposes of the body in the furnace, possibly ... Written by Broncine G. Carter

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There is a rare MCM VHS that goes by an unofficial name The Strong Survive with Matt Dillon on the cover. It also states as AKA Native Son. The photo of Matt Dillon seems to be taken from an unrelated film. It also has an unofficial R rating as the official film rating is an MPAA PG. See more »

Quotes

Gus: Ain't no use hiding it. That Bigger Thomas, he bad. Just bad!
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Soundtracks

"Jones Come Down (Call Me, Call Me, Call Me)
Written by James Mtume, Diane Silver and Dunn E. Pearson
Performed by Stephanie Mills
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User Reviews

 
A terrible adaptation of a wonderful book
12 December 2004 | by RC_McLachlanSee all my reviews

I'm not sure what Diane Silver was thinking when she was making this movie, but it obviously had nothing to do with Richard Wright's novel, which the movie is based on.

We read the novel this past summer for AP English 12, and just watched the film. During periodic note-taking and checking of the clock, I contemplated the chances of being struck by lightning. Of course, the sky was completely clear, and I was forced to watch the rest of the movie... and then write a 5-paragraph essay on it.

Wright's novel discussed very real themes, of the mind of a killer and the psychology behind it. Silver's movie turned a murderer into a victim, which is NOT what Wright wanted (see: "How Bigger was Born" 454).

I'm going to make this short and sweet: if you want to leave your consciousness, in Raphael Lambert's words, unsullied, skip the movie and read the book. The 1986 adaptation is not thought-provoking material.

... ::sigh:: Now I have to write the essay.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 December 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Native Son See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,301,121

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,301,121
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color
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