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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Douglas Sirk
Sink Into Sirk This May
Sink Into Sirk This May
Alamo screens "Majestic Tears: The Melodramas of Douglas Sirk"

Kimberley Jones, May 1, 2017

More Douglas Sirk Films
Written on the Wind
This wild love story among the pillars of a rich Texas oil family features a drunken, paranoid playboy (Stack, in maybe his very best performance), the woman who loves him (Bacall), the man who loves her (Hudson), and the half-sister (Malone) who loves him. This oil-family story is way, way east of Eden.

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 31, 2000

The Tarnished Angels
Adapted from William Faulkner’s novel Pylon, The Tarnished Angels is one of Sirk’s few movies with a high-art source. Filmed in black-and-white and CinemaScope, the ...

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 18, 2000

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Nomadland
Story of America's itinerant population wanders too much

Feb. 19, 2021

The Reason I Jump
Poetic insight into autism, based on Naoki Higashida memoir

Jan. 8, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

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

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle