As she wished, Annie is given a lavish funeral in a large church, complete with a gospel choir, followed by an elaborate traditional funeral procession with brass band and horse-drawn hearse. Just before the procession sets off, Sarah Jane pushes through the crowd of mourners to throw herself upon her mother's casket, begging forgiveness. Lora takes Sarah Jane to their limousine to join her, Susie, and Steve as the procession slowly travels through the city.
Molly Hiro of the University of Portland stated that the plot of the version of Imitation of Life had "many significant changes" from those of the original book and the film version. As a result, Bea, the white businesswoman, becomes rich. Director Douglas Sirk and screenwriters Eleanore Griffin and Allan Scott felt that such a story would not be accepted during the Civil Rights Movement amid milestones, such as the Brown v. Board of Education case and the Montgomery bus boycott , but racial discrimination and inequities was still part of it. The story was altered so that Lora becomes a Broadway star with her own talents, with Annie assisting her by serving as a nanny for Lora's child.
Producer Ross Hunter was cannily aware that these plot changes would enable Lana Turner to model an array of glamorous costumes and real jewels, something that would appeal to the female audience at that time. Although many actresses, most of them white,  were screen-tested for the Sarah Jane role in the remake, Susan Kohner , daughter of actress Lupita Tovar , born in Mexico, and Paul Kohner , a Czech Jewish immigrant, won the role.
Noted gospel singer Mahalia Jackson received "presenting" billing for her one scene, performing a version of "Trouble of the World" at Annie's funeral service. While neither actress won the Oscar, Kohner won the Golden Globe for her performance. Since the late 20th century, Imitation of Life has been re-evaluated by critics.
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It has been considered a masterpiece of Sirk's American career. Emanuel Levy has written, "One of the four masterpieces directed in the s, the visually lush, meticulously designed and powerfully acted Imitation of Life was the jewel in Sirk's crown, ending his Hollywood's career before he returned to his native Germany.
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Sirk's treatment of racial and class issues is also admired for what he caught of the times. Writing in , Rob Nelson said,.
Possibly thinking of W. Du Bois 's notion of African American double-consciousness, critic Molly Haskell once described Imitation ' s double-vision: "The mixed-race girl's agonizing quest for her identity is not seen from her point of view as much as it is mockingly reflected in the fun house mirrors of the culture from which she is hopelessly alienated.
In , BBC Online , the website of the British Broadcasting Corporation , named the film the 37th greatest American movie ever made based on a survey of film critics. A two-disc set of the films was issued by Universal in A Blu-ray with both films was released in April ;  this edition has been re-mastered, and is not identical with earlier DVD releases. Madman Entertainment in Australia released a three-disc DVD set, including the film version as well as a video essay on the film by Sam Staggs. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Imitation of Life Film poster by Reynold Brown. Universal-International .
Film portal United States portal s portal. Retrieved June 24, The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 16, Bright Lights Film Journal 6. Retrieved P ure information has limits in terms of advancing our wisdom on a particular subject. More is conveyed when information is encoded within skilfully-crafted emotional arcs.
Juanita Moore, star of Imitation of Life, dies aged 99
A clever melodrama delivers awareness on a complex matter while seeming to bypass the intellect. It creates emotions in viewers, gratifying both the craven desire for catharsis and the sophisticated desire to have our life and times illuminated, preferably in Technicolor. Born Hans Detlef Sierck, Sirk left his homeland for Hollywood in in solidarity with his Jewish wife, as the Nazi regime grew in power. Imitation of Life, Sirk-style, is a perfect melodrama. Beneath pastel colours and a Disney-like score, it sneaks in a lament for what it means to be black in America.
Watching the film in November , amid the din of racist voices emboldened by President-elect Donald Trump, it plays like a clarion call to wake up. The bell it rings may hit sweet cinematic notes but the song is one about the tragedy wrought by injustice.
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Her smile is warm and determined, but most of all tired. Her delivery is punchy and respectful, but most of all tired. She is Annie or Mrs Johnson. The two women maintain a close relationship that is full of double meaning. Such a view generally overlooks the implications of the dramas at the heart of the book and the literary qualities that make it much more than a straightforward documentation of the surface details of the era.
The book begins and ends with a death that leaves Bea anguished and alone. And, as she travels from her humble childhood home on Arctic Avenue in Atlantic City to the Manhattan mansion which comes to signify her success as a businesswoman, that anxiety persists.
When Delilah dies, Bea again becomes like a lost child, a ship without a rudder. At the same time, she discovers how difficult it is for a professional woman to satisfy the wider demands made of her and, perhaps most difficult of all, her expectations of herself. When she eventually comes to recognise this as a significant absence, she sees her business manager, Frank Flake, who is eight years her junior, as her Prince Charming. On the other hand, Delilah pays little heed to business matters.
The fact that an entrepreneurial white woman is able to build her success on the foundations Delilah has provided remains as irrelevant to her as forging new frontiers for a woman is to Bea. Peola grows up in the shadow of this well-meaning mother who has internalised the sense of inferiority inflicted on her race. She has become a witness to the oppression born of such a self-hatred.
In order to escape the invisible chains that shackle her, Peola seizes the passport provided by her white skin and, rejecting her African-American roots, sets out to pass herself off as white. The consequences for her and for her relationship with her mother are harrowing.
Hurst never lets us forget the wider context in which these personal dramas unfold. While the novel certainly pivots on the personal strivings of its four central characters, it also presents them as prisoners of the ideology of their times. And Imitation of Life no more punishes mothers for working than it punishes Delilah and Peola for being black.
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On the whole the audience seemed to find it a gripping and powerful if slightly diffuse drama which discussed the mother love question, the race question, the business woman question, the mother and daughter question and the love renunciation question. This kind of pressure perhaps goes some way towards explaining the number of people who ended up working on the screenplay. Even after the film had been shooting for two weeks, Universal was still awaiting approval of the script.
The reasons for the eventual assent remain unclear and can only be implied from the finished film. But its place in history is assured for its bold introduction of a commentary about race relations into a realm of popular American cinema which, as the reaction of the PCA indicates, was unaccustomed to dealing with such matters. As the film begins, Bea is a widow, living in Atlantic City with three-year-old Jessie Juanita Quigley and dealing with the frustrations of being a working mother. Declining payment, she says that all she wants is accommodation for her and her four-year-old, Peola Sebie Hendricks , whose white skin belies her racial heritage.
Riding roughshod over any rights Delilah might have to the fruits of her labour, Bea goes about setting up a pancake business without ever consulting her employee.
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My inclination is towards the latter, largely because, throughout the film, attention appears to be drawn to her generally supportive but often thoughtless treatment of Delilah. Nonetheless, any initial uncertainty the viewer may feel is likely to be reinforced by the subsequent scene in which Bea tells Delilah to assume an Aunt Jemimah pose 29 by way of modelling for her sign painter Henry Armetta , the extended medium close-up seeming to invite laughter.
And, soon afterwards, the film opens itself to the charge of racism in the scene where Bea and her recently appointed business manager, Elmer Smith Ned Sparks , try to persuade Delilah to lend her signature to the registration of the Aunt Delilah Corporation and thus to establish her right to a share of the profits.
The Aunt Jemimah syndrome: exploitation or satire?