5.8/10
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9 user 7 critic

Native Son (1986)

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1:25 | Trailer
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

Max: [before the trial of Mary Dalton's murder] Talk to me, Bigger. You've got to help me defend you. Why did you kill her?
Bigger Thomas: I didn't plan to kill her.
Max: Tell me what happened.
Bigger Thomas: It was an accident! But that don't matter now.
Max: Did you rape her?
Max: No, Mr. Max! I didn't. They say black men do that. It don't matter if Ii did or I didn't.
Max: You know, Bigger, I would've thought you liked her.
Bigger Thomas: Liked her? I hated her!
Max: What has she done to you?
Bigger Thomas: It ain't like she did nothing straight-out. I mean... she asked me a lot of ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Classified X (1998) See more »

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

Doesn't have the impact the novel had
30 August 2001 | by unfoundSee all my reviews

Synopsis: A young black man from the poor streets of Chicago, gets the opportunity of a lifetime working as a chauffer for a wealthy family. But in an effort not to jeopardize his first day on the job, something goes horribly wrong leaving him responsible for a murder.

The Review: Richard Wright's novel is an intense depiction of one man, trying to protect and better himself, whose own self is unwillfully brought into something he just gets into deeper. The book itself is five hundred pages and broken down into three separate novellas. One chunk of the book is exclusively devoted to a lawyer's speech about racism, that was completely excised from the film. The film, in a manner of speaking, is relatively different because it's compressed all the information. The film lacks the spark the book had as well as the impact. Not much sympathy can be said for any of the characters because their development just isn't strong enough. It's a distorted film that doesn't have any strengths to it, and the climax at the end, is really broken down to nothing more than just a series of edited scenes and voiceovers. If you love the novel, and want to see the film, just stick with the novel, because they simply aren't the same. Grade: C-


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 December 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Native Son - Im Namen der Gerechtigkeit 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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