Imitation of Life (1934)
Dir: John M. Stahl
USA, 1934, 111minmins, DCP
Cast: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Rochelle Hudson
Two films directed by John M. Stahl – both adaptations of popular literature – were later remade by Douglas Sirk: Magnificent Obsession and this first attempt at filming Fannie Hurst’s 1933 novel. Two single mothers – a white widow and her black housekeeper – form a strong bond over the years, but the maid’s light-skinned daughter refuses to acknowledge her blackness, internalizing society’s racism as a form of selfhatred directed towards her mother. Stahl’s film differs from Sirk’s with a lighter storyline for its white lead that is less critical of the American obsession with success and appearances, and a treatment of the black daughter’s predicament that is not so overtly sexualised.
Academy Awards: 3 nominations including Best Picture
Time ’s Top 25 Important Films On Race
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