28 Days of Black Cinema: Day 9
Imitation of Life (1959)
Starring: Juanita Moore, Lana Turner, Susan Kohner, Sandra Dee, John Gavin
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Written by Eleanore Griffin, Allan Scott
"I don't know how to explain to your child, she was born to be hurt." - Annie
Considering that the DVD art for this film is covered in white faces, this may seem like an odd film to show up in my Black Cinema campaign, but stay with me.
Annie (Juanita Moore) and Laura (Lana Turner) are both single mothers, trying to raise their daughters in the best way they know how.
Laura is a struggling actress and after a chance meeting on the beach, Annie takes the position of Laura's housekeeper and friend. The story about Laura and her daughter is not really that interesting. I want you to focus on Annie and her daughter, Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner).
Sarah Jane's skin is much lighter than her mother's skin and she is determined to go through her life, passing for white. Sarah Jane continually pushes her mother away and refuses her love, in order to live her new life. This is a story of colorism.
I warn you. You will cry. Especially when Mahalia Jackson sings "Troubles of The World".