Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life

Part of See It Big!: Hollywood Melodrama
Sunday, August 17, 2014, 5:30 p.m.

Dir. Douglas Sirk. 1959, 125 mins. 35mm. With Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner, Roberta Alda, Dan O’Herlihy, Juanita Moore, Troy Donahue. This is the most thematically ambitious and emotionally powerful movie from Douglas Sirk, crafter of impeccable Hollywood weepies that contain 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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