Imitation of Life

Dir. Douglas Sirk. 1959, 125 mins. 35mm. With Lana Turner, John Gavin, Susan Kohner, Juanita Moore. This is the most thematically ambitious and powerful movie from Douglas Sirk, crafter of impeccable Hollywood weepies that contained searing social commentary. On the surface, Imitation of Life seems to be a sudser about the romantic and professional travails of a struggling actress. But as her woes are paralleled with the heartbreaking story of her black maid’s struggles with an ashamed daughter, it is revealed as a stealth portrait of racism in America.

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Trailer for Imitation of Life
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Article from Jump Cut, April 1987