HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
Ibiza Undead
Wings of Eagles, The
Beats
Body Parts
   
 
Newest Articles
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Imitation of Life Always AspiringBuy this film here.
Year: 1959
Director: Douglas Sirk
Stars: Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner, Robert Alda, Dan O'Herlihy, Karin Dicker, Terry Burnham, John Vivyan, Lee Goodman, Ann Robinson, Troy Donahue, Sandra Gould, David Tomack, Jack Weston
Genre: Drama
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Back in 1947, New Yorker Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) was at the beach when her daughter Susie went missing, and she was frantic in her attempts to find her. A photographer called Steve Archer (John Gavin) helped her out by pointing the widow in the direction of a policeman, and soon Susie was found, playing with another little girl called Sarah Jane who was there with her own widowed mother Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore). They were getting along famously and soon the two parents were as well, striking up a friendship over their shared plight of how tough life was for single mothers, so much so that without further ado they decided to move in with each other, Annie acting as Lora's housekeeper while she tried to get acting work...

Imitation of Life had been made before in 1934, an adaptation of Fannie Hurst's controversial anti-racism bestselling book, but a remake had been on the cards ever since nineteen-fifties superproducer Ross Hunter won the rights. When Lana Turner hit a sensational scandal as her daughter stabbed Lana's gangster boyfriend to death as an extreme method of getting him to stop beating her mother, it seemed as though the star would never recover her previous standing as a popular celebrity, with many rumours going round about the circumstances behind the murder, so what she really needed was a hit, something absolutely certain to both capitalise on this notoriety and make sure Turner still had a career.

She took a pay cut, no longer being a sure thing, but wisely in its stead also accepted a share of the profits: she need not have worried, as the Imitation of Life remake proved a huge hit, partly because the public were even more fascinated by Turner than they had been before, and partly because it was just the sort of sudsy melodrama that they were flocking to see in the fifties. This was perhaps the last major entry in that cycle of the decade, and it was another last for its director too, as Douglas Sirk ended a stellar period in Hollywood churning out this sort of material when the pressure of the production line became too much and he suffered physically for it. For his fans, he assuredly went out on a high, as this was his last masterpiece; that said, not everyone liked what this said about race.

Sirk's approach was to deliver a subtle commentary about the state of the world, and quite often the United States, from an outsider's perspective, and he could be pretty scathing if you became aware of what he was smuggling into what were often dismissed at the time as women's pictures. But if there was one thing women liked to see on the big screen in the fifties, at least in movies aimed at them, it was suffering, and as Sirk regarded that state of being as almost transcendent then you could truly indulge yourself and have a good cry at the plight of the female characters here. In the case of this, it was the fear that no matter how you tried to provide for your offspring and be a good parent, it would never be enough, and they would always end up with a lion's share of problems for both you and them to fret over. As there were two mothers here, they both were awarded an equal amount of fretting as their daughters grew up with issues personal to them.

Frankly, when Susie turned into Sandra Dee and fell for Steve, who all these years had been getting very fond of Lora, it was your basic melodrama and failed to bring the same charge to the plot as the real life Lana's daughter troubles, though it was nevertheless enough. However, while Lora's rise to stardom was sufficiently engrossing, Sirk recognised the real substance of the story was with Annie and Sarah Jane, as the girl grows up to be Natalie Wood-alike Susan Kohner (not black but Jewish-Mexican, unlike the original which cast the genuinely African-American Fredi Washington) who is deeply ashamed of her race and wishes to pass for white, to the extent that it drives her and her stoic mother to distraction. As you imagine was the motivation, this brought up all sorts of questions: had Annie been too complacent in accepting a second class citizen's role (though they are best friends, she's essentially Lora's maid)? Was Sarah Jane overreacting by denying her background for a chance at enjoying the benefits the white population had? Should they have reached a compromise? It was mark of the film's tensions that no one seems able to offer a definitive answer, and while there was certainly camp here, with Kohner a great bad girl with painful psychology, that final scene has been known to make even the hardest hearts melt a little. Music by Frank Skinner.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1673 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: