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Imitation of Life

3 Ratings: 4.3
Classics and Drama movie directed by Douglas Sirk

Two widowed friends, Bea and Delilah, with young daughters build a life and a fortune together; As years go on, their friendship deepens but their relationship with their daughters become strained.  Genre:Feature Film-Drama  Rating:NR  Rele … see full wiki

Director: Douglas Sirk
Genre: Classics, Drama
1 review about Imitation of Life

Imitation of Life - 1959

  • Dec 12, 2008
  • by
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The Bottom Line:
"Inside my imagination
There is an imitation of life
You captured me for an instant
Still in your camera and in your life"

Imitation of Life was released when times and outlooks were different than they are today.  The ‘color' line has become more blended today, but back in the early 50's it was quite distinct.  Crossing that line meant you were shunning your birthright but it also meant you could obtain opportunities that were not available to you otherwise.  Our story focuses on Lora, an attractive white woman in New York.  She has a small child, Susie, and a desire to become an actress.  She meets Annie, a homeless black woman, who also has a small child, Sarah Jane.  Both young girls are totally obnoxious, Sarah being the worse, but for highly different reasons.

Lora is late entering the acting world and has much to prove.  She meets all sorts of obstacles, most notably the ‘casting couch' which she shuns at first.  Annie takes on the responsibility of motherhood to both girls since Lora practically ignores little Susie in her attempt to reach stardom.   As the girls grow older, and farther apart, it become apparent that Sarah is ‘passing' herself as white.   She grows further and further from her mother, much to Annie's sorrow, and more shallow and takes on the characterizations of the narrow minded Lora.

What many don't like about this movie, viewing it today, is the almost campy way it carries the thread of the story.  I've even heard it called a soap opera in other reviews.  Certainly, viewing it with today's eyes, one can see that problem.  However, having lived that era and seen these exact circumstances happen, I guess I look at this movie differently.  The late 40's, early 50's, were a completely different time for single women, especially with children, than now.  Add to the mix, the acting profession at that time carried a darker aura than today, again, especially for women. 

The entire racial issue was another matter completely.  Passing, then, was a coup if you could pull it off.  And if that was your goal, you didn't care one hoot who you hurt along the way to reach that goal.  So, Sarah's attempts were quite lifelike, for the times reflected in the movie. 

So, overall, the movie might be a bit sappy and not your style, but it covered some real life issues that evolved during that era.  It crossed some lines that were usually only hinted at but never discussed.  It isn't a great film but it has some bright moments and good entertaining value.  It was directed by Douglas Sirk who always received a bad rap about his ‘women's flicks' but he wasn't afraid to give his women some courage.   It was nominated for 8 awards, winning three.

The main stars were Lana Turner as Lora; looking a bit older and more affluent than you would expect a down and out actress to look.  Sandra Dee, as Susie; Susan Kohner as Sarah Jane; and a wonderful performance by Juanita Moore as Annie, showing a complete range of emotions and depth of character.



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3 Ratings: +4.3
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"a true classic"
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