Imitation of Life
Directed by Douglas Sirk. US. 1959. NR. 125 minutes. Universal. Digital.
Sun., February 21, 2016
This classic “weepie,” based on a novel by Fannie Hurst and previously filmed in 1934 with Claudette Colbert in the Lana Turner role, is actually a sensitive exploration of two mothers struggling to raise their children. Turner plays a successful actress and Juanita Moore (Academy Award nominated for this role) is her maid, with Moore’s daughter (a chilling Susan Kohler, also Oscar nominated) seeking to pass for white. Within this melodramatic setting, Sirk and producer Ross Hunter provide a cogent commentary on 1950s materialism, racism and the disintegration of the nuclear family, while pouring on the schmaltz, all in glorious Technicolor. Many feel that this was Sirk’s masterpiece. Come see it and find out why. (Bill Roth)