Imitation of Life

1959, NR, 125 min. Directed by Douglas Sirk. Starring Lana Turner, John Gavin, Susan Kohner, Sandra Dee, Juanita Moore.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Thu., June 22, 2000

In this second Hollywood remake of the Fannie Hurst sob story, Turner and Moore each play husbandless women in New York raising daughters on their own. One woman is white and the other is black. They set up a domestic arrangement in which Turner pursues her acting career, while Moore stays home and tends house. Their daughters are brought up together. When Turner becomes successful, the women’s relationship, although intimate, assumes more the pattern of employer and maid. Meanwhile Turner’s daughter grows up to be Sandra Dee, who falls in love with her mother’s love interest, and Moore’s daughter grows into an angry light-skinned dancer, who abandons her mother and passes for white. The film is a biting critique of American race relations in the Fifties and a complex study in contrasts and paradoxes.

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Imitation of Life, Douglas Sirk, Lana Turner, John Gavin, Susan Kohner, Sandra Dee, Juanita Moore

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