Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Imitation Of Life" 1959

Do you like soap operas? Do you like 10 different plots wrapped into one picture? Than this is the film for you. Starring Lana Turner, John Gavin, and Juanita Moore, this 2 hour film is all about drama. Get ready...

Lana plays Lora, a struggling actress who has a young daughter, Susie. They are poor and living in a small apartment when Lora looses Susie at the beach. When she finds her, she is hanging out with Annie (Juanita Moore), a black gal with a white looking daughter, Sarah Jane. They befriend each other and in the process meet Rock Hudson look alike Steve(John Gavin).

"Wait until we are older, we will be train wrecks!"

Lora invites Annie and Sarah Jane to live with them as a "maid" but not really because Lora can't pay her. So this weird friend/employer relationship starts. Sarah Jane has serious identity issues and doesn't want to be seen as black. Which she isn't, because she looks white. Sarah Jane and Susie become good friends, as do Annie and Lora. 

Lora gets a few small modeling gigs, but is broke and times are tough. Weirdly after meeting for about 2 minutes, Steve comes by and visits. The children are so excited, even though they don't know Steve at all. He asks Lora out and she says yes.

Lora and Steve go out, but on date two she blows him off for a potential acting job. She lies to get a meeting with the agent who  calls her bluff but agrees to get her jobs with one condition...she becomes his "lady". Disgusted, Lora turns him down.

"Get naked for an audition?! Hell to the no!"

Annie is having trouble with Sarah Jane. SJ doesn't want anyone to know her momma is black and gets embarrassed when Annie comes to her school. She runs away and we see what issues Sarah Jane is going though. 

During date night take two, Lora again blows Steve off when the same agent calls again for a job. Steve tells Lora he is in love with her and that she must quit her dreams of acting to marry him. This doesn't go over well and their short romance is over. Oh the drama!

The agent works his magic without Lora having to give it up and we see Lora become a famous and successful theater actor over the course of a decade. We slow down and take a look at her life after she is wealthy. Annie is still her friend/maid and Susie is now away at school. 

Susie wishes her momma would spend more time with her and looks to Annie as more of a mother figure.  Sarah Jane has a secret boyfriend who is white and is always arguing with her mother. Steve comes by with his girlfriend to see one of Lora's recent hit plays and Lora is all over him. They start to hang out. 
(Who knows what happend to the gf!)

Lora gets a chance to work on a film and asks Steve to spend time with Susie. Susie is sad because she wishes her mother would hang out with her more. Sarah Jane goes away to work at a library. Annie finds out she isn't really working at a library but as a burlesque dancer in the city! Annie confronts her and a big fight ensues. Sarah Jane wants nothing to do with her ever again.
 More drama!

Annie is sick and sad that her daughter never wants to see her again. Susie falls in love with Steve just in time for mother to marry him. Talk about awkward. 

In the end, Annie kicks the bucket and has the longest death in film history followed by the longest funeral procession in film history. The fiancee and I were laughing.

As crazy and as long as this film is, it is actually really good. So much goes on you feel like you are watching four different movies. I would defiantly recommend this flick for anyone who has 2 hours to kill!


wacky tacky said...

I like this one, but I LOVE the Claudette Colbert film. There is just something about Claudette as a pancake queen that works. Lana crying is awesome!!!

Emily said...

I had a feeling you liked this film! It is like a deer in headlights; you just can't stop watching! Jesse and I went from, "What the hell?" to, "Oh my God this is amazing!" during the whole film.

monty said...

This is actually one of my all time favorites. I know some may say it's over-wrought and too melodramatic but I love it. Great post Emily.

Patti said...

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my Now, Voyager post the other day. Absolutely not, no one could make lighting a cigarette be as romantic as Paul Henreid did in that movie. I read that doing that was not part of the script...Henreid and his wife had been doing that for years, so it was just natural as all get-out for him to do it in the movie. What a fabulous touch!!

About this post of yours...I LOVE Imitation of's among my top 10 movies; however, I actually prefer the original 30's version. I have the 2 disc edition, which contains both versions, and I enjoy the Lana Turner version, but the original is my favorite. Have you ever seen that one?

The scene in which Peola/Sarah Jane comes to her senses at her mother's funeral is agonizing, isn't it?

Oh, and John Gavin (in the remake) is quite the gorgeous guy, isn't he?

Have a great day!!